2 Events to Give Earth a Better Look at Jupiter

Planet will be a mere 367 million miles away on Monday
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 25, 2022 12:20 PM CDT
2 Events to Give Earth a Better Look at Jupiter
This image provided by NASA shows a false color composite image of Jupiter obtained by the James Webb Space Telescope in July.   (NASA via AP)

Citizens of Earth are about to get a better look than usual at Jupiter, as it comes closer to Earth than it's been since 1963. "Jupiter is so bright and brilliant that a really nice thing about it is even in a city, in the middle of a bright city, you can see it," said Alphonse Sterling, a NASA astrophysicist. "So I would say that it's a good thing to take advantage of and to look at no matter where you're at." Jupiter will be just 367 million miles from Earth on Monday; it won't be this close again until 2129, NPR reports.

NASA said the best views will available Monday night, per the Washington Post. In addition to being closer, the planet will be in opposition—to people on Earth, Jupiter will appear opposite the sun, rising in the east as the sun sets in the west. That happens every 13 months, which makes Jupiter appear bigger and brighter. But both conditions won't occur at the same time again until 2139. "This is one of the fun things about living on a moving planet," said Michelle Thaller, a NASA astronomer.

For the best look, observers will want a high elevation, dark skies, and dry weather conditions. A telescope is ideal, but binoculars braced to keep them steady can work. Sterling said he could see Jupiter's largest moons last week using binoculars. Telescopes in space will be able to get better images of Jupiter for months, and the improved visibility from Earth also will last past Monday. "It will look particularly big and bright over the next couple of weeks," Thaller said. "It will just be beautiful." (Read more Jupiter stories.)

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