posted on 09/22/2022 15:21
Opposition occurs when an astronomical object rises in the east — while the Sun sets in the west — placing them on opposite sides of the Earth – (credit: NASA, ESA, A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center) and MH Wong (University from California, Berkeley))
On Monday (26/9), sky lovers and astronomy enthusiasts will be able to get a good view of Jupiter. That’s because the planet will make its closest approach to Earth since 1963, making the celestial body appear bigger and brighter. This event will occur because of the phenomenon known as opposition.
Opposition occurs when an astronomical object rises in the east — while the Sun sets in the west — placing them on opposite sides of the Earth. Planet opposition occurs every 13 months and it is approximately 600 million miles away. It is estimated that at closest approach, Jupiter will be 367 million miles away from Earth.
Astrophysicist and NASA researcher Adam Kobelski recommends using a 4-inch (or larger) telescope and some filters in the green and blue range to increase the visibility of the planet’s features. However, a good binocular already guarantees that at least three moons of Jupiter are visible.
It should be noted that optimal viewing depends on a higher altitude in a dark area and open skies. “The views must be great for a few days before and after 26th September. So take advantage of the good weather on either side of this date to enjoy the view. Aside from the Moon, it must be one of, if not the brightest objects in the night sky,” explains Kobelski.
Jupiter has 53 named moons. Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto are the four largest, called Galilean satellites because it was Galileo Galilei who first observed them in 1610. With binoculars or telescopes, these satellites should appear as bright spots next to the opposing planet.
Scientists believe that studying Jupiter could lead to groundbreaking discoveries about the formation of the solar system. The Juno spacecraft has been studying the planet for six years, providing images and data about the celestial body’s atmosphere, internal magnetic field and magnetosphere.
The next Jupiter exploration project is the Europa Clipper. The spacecraft will study the moon Europa, known for its icy shell and vast ocean that lies beneath the surface. The launch is scheduled for 2024 and NASA scientists aim to find out if the famous moon of Jupiter is capable of harboring life.