Jupiter will appear bigger and brighter than usual on Monday evening, as it comes closest to Earth since 1963.
Jupiter, a gigantic milky orange gas giant, is the largest planet in our solar system. The bands of color on the planet are swirling gases that churning in huge storm systems. Some of these systems, like Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, last for centuries.
The impressive features of the planet will be brought into sharp relief tonight by the way it orbits the Sun. The orbits of Earth and Jupiter are slightly elliptical, which means that the distance between the two planets varies. And the orbits of the two planets are quite different – a year on Jupiter, or the time it takes to go around the Sun, takes 12 Earth years.
At its greatest distance, Jupiter is about 600 million kilometers from Earth. But tonight it will be only 367 million miles from us. Jupiter is on the opposite side of Earth to the Sun tonight, a position called opposition, making the gas giant appear larger and brighter than usual.
According to Adam Kobelski, an astrophysicist researcher at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, the bands of the planet and several of the Galilean moons will be visible with good binoculars. “One of the main needs will be stable support for whatever system you’re using,” Kobelski said in a NASA report. Release.
A 4-inch or larger telescope will be able to detect specific features on the face of the planet, such as the Great Red Spot. If you don’t have a telescope or decent binoculars, Jupiter will still be visible to the naked eye, but you won’t be able to see any detail of the planet.
Still, its brightness will be more significant than usual thanks to its proximity. No matter how you choose to observe Jupiter, clear weather, high altitudes, and dark skies will help. Although its closest approach is tonight, Jupiter and its moons will be more visible in the coming nights, according to a NASA version.
And if you want to see Jupiter in superlative colors, you can refer to some recent images from the Webb Space Telescope which captured the planet’s auroras in infrared.
Jupiter’s moons should also attract more attention. from NASA European Clipper The mission, slated for launch no earlier than October 2024, will give us our best glimpse of Europa, Jupiter’s frozen moon. Scientists believe that a vast salty ocean lies beneath the icy crust of Europa. The Clipper will map the Moon’s surface and use ice-penetrating radar to peer into the mysterious underworld.
Exciting missions are on the horizon for Jupiter and its satellites, but over the next few nights we will be able to appreciate these celestial bodies from here on Earth.
More: Scientists have observed nine swirling cyclones at Jupiter’s north pole