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Look up! Jupiter to make closest approach to Earth in 59 years on Monday for ‘extraordinary’ views

Stargazers, look up! Jupiter makes closest approach to Earth in 59 years on Monday for ‘extraordinary’ views – even though it’s 367 million miles away

  • Jupiter will make its closest approach to Earth since 1963 on Monday evening
  • The planet will be 367 million miles from us at its closest point
  • The giant planet will rise in the east as the sun sets in the west – placing Jupiter and the sun on opposite sides of Earth
  • “With good binoculars, the band (at least the central band) and three or four of the Galilean satellites (moons) should be visible,” says a NASA scientist

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Stargazers are in for quite a treat when Jupiter makes its closest approach to Earth since 1963 on Monday evening.

The giant planet, which will be 367 million miles from us at its closest point, reaches its opposition next week. This simply means that the planet will rise in the east when the sun sets in the west – placing Jupiter and the sun on opposite sides of the Earth.

The massive planet is about 600 million miles away from Earth at its farthest point. Although Jupiter’s opposition occurs every 13 months, this one is unique.

Stargazers will be in for quite a show when Jupiter makes its closest approach to Earth since 1963 on Monday night. Above: This photo of Jupiter, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope on June 27, 2019, shows the Great Red Spot, an Earth-sized storm , which has been raging for hundreds of years

Stargazers will be in for quite a show when Jupiter makes its closest approach to Earth since 1963 on Monday night. Above: This photo of Jupiter, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope on June 27, 2019, shows the Great Red Spot, an Earth-sized storm , which has been raging for hundreds of years

This is because Earth and Jupiter do not orbit the Sun in perfect circles – meaning they pass each other at different distances during the year.

Jupiter’s closest approach to Earth almost never coincides with opposition, meaning this year’s views will be ‘extraordinary’, according to NASA.

Although Jupiter is one of the few planets that can be seen with the naked eye, NASA still recommends using some type of instrument.

“With good binoculars, the band (at least the central band) and three or four of the Galilean satellites (moons) should be visible,” Adam Kobelski, a research astrophysicist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, said in a statement .

The giant planet, which will be 367 million miles from us at its closest point, reaches its opposition next week.  NASA recommends binoculars or a 4-inch telescope for the best view

The giant planet, which will be 367 million miles from us at its closest point, reaches its opposition next week.  NASA recommends binoculars or a 4-inch telescope for the best view

The giant planet, which will be 367 million miles from us at its closest point, reaches its opposition next week. NASA recommends binoculars or a 4-inch telescope for the best view

1663706720 133 Look up Jupiter to make closest approach to Earth in

1663706720 133 Look up Jupiter to make closest approach to Earth in

“The outlook should be great for a few days before and after September 26,” Kobelski explained. So take advantage of the good weather on either side of this date to enjoy the sight. Outside of the Moon, it should be one of (if not the) brightest objects in the night sky.’ Above: As the Moon rose over the Wasatch Mountains near Salt Lake City on February 27, 2019, the planet Jupiter could be seen along with three of its largest moons

‘It is important to remember that Galileo observed these moons with 17th century optics. One of the most important needs will be a stable mount for the system you use.’

A 4-inch or larger telescope would allow observers to see Jupiter’s Great Red Spot and bands in more detail.

Kobelski said an ideal vantage point would be at a high elevation in a dark and dry area.

“The outlook should be great for a few days before and after September 26,” Kobelski explained. So take advantage of the good weather on either side of this date to enjoy the sight. Outside of the Moon, it should be one of (if not the) brightest objects in the night sky.’

The US space agency notes that Jupiter has no fewer than 53 named moons, out of 79 believed to have been discovered in total, including the four largest: Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto.

NASA’s Juno spacecraft has been orbiting Jupiter for six years – since then, scientists have obtained images and data of the giant planet’s atmosphere, structures and magnetic field.

Juno’s mission was recently extended to 2025, or the end of the spacecraft’s lifetime.

Europa Clipper, a spacecraft that will explore Jupiter’s moon known for its icy shell and vast ocean, is set to launch in October 2024 and will arrive at Jupiter in April 2030.