On Monday, Jupiter will experience its first opposition and get near to Earth for the first time in 60 years.
Photo by Planet Volumes on Unsplash
On Monday, the planet Jupiter will be at opposition, its closest point to Earth in over 60 years, and New Jersey residents will be able to see it in amazing detail.
The two celestial events will come together on September 26 to give sky viewers a spectacular, once-in-a-lifetime picture of the solar system's biggest planet, according to NASA.
The opposition of Jupiter occurs once every 13 months. According to EarthSky.org, opposition is the time it takes for Earth to complete one orbit of the sun in relation to Jupiter. Jupiter and the sun will be on opposing sides of Earth when opposition occurs, with the planet rising in the east and the sun setting in the west.
Additionally, NASA reports that on September 26, Jupiter will make its closest approach to Earth in 59 years. This is due to the fact that planets don't orbit the sun in perfect circles and tend to pass each other at varying distances throughout the year.
To determine precisely when Jupiter will rise and set nearby on Monday, see the Old Farmer's Almanac.
Fortunately, the weather is in favor of those hoping to see the gas giant on Monday night in New Jersey.
According to Accuweather, there will be clear to partly overcast sky with a 0% risk of thunderstorms and a 27% probability of cloud cover.
A Monday high of 73 degrees will be followed by a low of 47 degrees at night.
Jupiter will be 367 million miles away from Earth when it comes closest, which is around the same distance as in 1963. The planet is around 600 million kilometers from Earth at its furthest point.
Adam Kobelski, a research astrophysicist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, predicts that the planet will also be easier to see in the days before and following September 26.
For a few days before and after September 26, the views should be excellent, according to Kobelski. So, enjoy the nice weather on either side of this day to view the spectacle. It ought to be one of, if not the, brightest object in the night sky except the moon.
The Best Way to See Jupiter
Stargazers can locate Jupiter by locating the Great Square of the constellation Pegasus, which is a big square pattern in the sky with four medium-bright stars marking the corners. Once it's dark, search for the Circlet, a faint, circular gathering of stars in the constellation Pisces. Jupiter lies in the southeast corner of both constellations.
A pair of binoculars mounted on a tripod should provide a nice view of the planet. Kobelski advised a 4 inch or bigger telescope with green or blue filters to observe Jupiter's Great Red Spot or bands.
According to Kobelski, the best viewing spot would be at a high height in a dark and dry environment.