Jupiter Will Make Its Closest Approach To Earth In 70 Years On This Date


Jupiter will make its closest approach to Earth in the last 70 years on September 26, 2022. Also, the gas giant will reach opposition on that date. As a result, stargazers can enjoy excellent views of Jupiter. An opposition with respect to Earth is a phenomenon in which an astronomical object rises in the east as the Sun sets in the west, placing the object and the Sun on the opposite sides of Earth. When Jupiter is in opposition, it appears larger and brighter than any time of the year. The gas giant’s opposition occurs every 13 months.

Why Is Jupiter’s Opposition On September 26 Special?

Jupiter’s opposition on September 26 is special because the gas giant will make its closest approach to Earth in the last 70 years.

According to NASA, the reason behind this phenomenon is that Earth and Jupiter do not orbit the Sun in perfect circles. As a result, the planets pass each other at different distances throughout the year.

Since Jupiter’s closest approach to Earth rarely coincides with opposition, this year’s views of the gas giant will be extraordinary.

Jupiter, at its closest approach, will be approximately 588 million kilometers in distance from Earth. Jupiter is approximately 966 million kilometers away from Earth at its farthest point.

How To Watch Jupiter On September 26

In a statement released by NASA, Adam Kobelski, a research astrophysicist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, said with good binoculars, the banding and three or four of the Galilean satellites (moons) should be visible. He added that Galileo observed these moons with 17th century optics, and one of the key needs will be a stable mount for whatever system is used.

In order to see Jupiter’s Great Red Spot and bands in more detail, one needs a larger telescope, Kobelski said.

These features can be viewed clearly with the help of a 4-inch or larger telescope, and some filters in the green to blue range, he further said.

An ideal location to view Jupiter will be at a high elevation in a dark and dry area, according to Kobelski.

He also said that the views should be great for a few days before and after September 26, so, one should take advantage of good weather on either side of the date to take in the sight.

Kobelski said that outside of the Moon, Jupiter should be one of the brightest objects in the night sky.

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What Are Galilean Moons?

Scientists have named 53 Julian moons. However, they believe that 79 moons have been detected in total.

Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto are Jupiter’s four largest moons, and are known as the Galilean satellites. Named after Galileo Galilei, who first observed them in 1610, the Galilean satellites should appear as bright dots on either side of Jupiter during opposition, in binoculars or a telescope.

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