The most massive planet in the solar system, Jupiter, will make its closest approach to Earth in 59 years on September 2. 26 even though the gas giant will be directly opposite the sun as seen from Earth, an astronomical arrangement known as opposition.
Opposition is common for Jupiterthat occurs every 13 months, and the planet and Land make close approaches about once a year. The arrangement that sees the Earth in the middle of the sun and Jupiter rarely coincides with the massive planet’s closest approach to our planet, known as perigee. But this time, the opposition occurs on September 1. 26 and closest approach on September 26. 25
As a result, the gas giant planet will be unusually bright and large in the sky, offering a rare opportunity to see its features. Jupiter should be in prime position for sky watchers with binoculars or a small telescope for several days around the two landmarks. Finding a site with higher elevation, dark skies, and dry weather will improve the visibility of the planet.
“Views should be great for a few days before and after September 26,” Adam Kobelski, a research astrophysicist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, said in a statement. NASA Statement (opens in a new tab). “Then take advantage of the good weather on either side of this date to enjoy the view. Out of the MoonIt should be one of the (if not the) brightest objects in the night sky.”
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The planets of the solar system revolve around the sun in flat circles, or ellipses, rather than perfect circles, so Earth and Jupiter pass each other at varying distances.
While Earth takes around 365 days to orbit the sun, Jupiter takes a more leisurely route around the star, completing an orbit every 4,333 Earth days, or 12 Earth years.
During next week’s approach, NASA’s gas giant will be about 590 million kilometers from our planet, according to the NASA statement. At its furthest point, Jupiter is about 600 million miles (960 million km) from Earth. The last time Jupiter was this close to our planet, and the last time skywatchers could see it this big and bright in the sky, was in October 1963.
The favorable alignments mean that some of Jupiter’s most fascinating attributes should be in view from Earth.
“With good binoculars, the bands, at least the central band, and three or four of the Galilean satellites should be visible,” Kobelski said in the statement. “It’s important to remember that Galileo observed these moons with 17th-century optics.”
the Galilean satellites they are the four largest of Jupiter’s 79 moons known to date. Named Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto, these moons should be seen as bright spots on either side of the gas giant.
the frozen moon Europe It hides a vast ocean and has become a prime target for investigating whether life could exist elsewhere in the solar system. To this end, the Europa Clipper will venture to the Jovian moon, with launch scheduled for no earlier than 2024. Europa will also launch the Jupiter Icy Moons spacecraft to explore three of the Galilean moons, with launch scheduled for April 2023.
Kobelski said that astronomers using a larger, more powerful telescope should be able to observe Jupiter’s orbit. Great Red Spota storm that has plagued the planet’s atmosphere for at least two centuries.
At about 10,000 miles (16,000 km) wide, the Great Red Spot is believed to be the largest storm in the solar system. Wind gusts between 270 mph (430 kph) and 425 mph (685 kph). Recent observations of the Great Red Spot by NASA’s Juno spacecraft indicated that the storm is also surprisingly deep. Already twice as wide as our planet, the storm is deep enough to reach from Earth’s ocean floor to the International Space Station.
However, Jupiter isn’t just fascinating to home astronomers; Scientists think that studying the giant could help explain how the solar system formed the way it did.
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