Jupiter will be brighter and larger in the night sky as it passes our planet at its closest distance in 59 years.
Australians will be able to see the largest planet up close in the coming weeks, with Tuesday being one of the best days to see the giant gaseous planet, provided skies are clear.
Midnight is the best time to see it over the continent, but dusk and dawn also offer better-than-usual views.
At sunset it is best to look at the horizon away from the sun, at sunrise on the other hand You can see it if you face west with your back to the rising sun.
The massive planet (pictured with its famous “Red Spot”) is 591 million kilometers from Earth and stargazers haven’t had as great a chance to spot it in the night sky since October 1963
Jupiter will still be 591 million kilometers from Earth, but stargazers haven’t had as great an opportunity to spot it in the night sky since October 1963.
Queensland astrophysics professor Jonti Horner told ABC that the gas planet rises on Earth at sunset and sets at sunrise — an event that occurs every 13 months.
This is when it appears largest and brightest than at any other time of the year.
‘At this point the Earth is closest to Jupiter this year – so we would describe that as the Earth closest to Jupiter,’ Professor Horner said.
“However, not all close approaches are created equal, some are closer than others.”
Jupiter and Earth are in an orbit around the Sun that is not always perfectly circular (pictured is a rough representation of Earth’s size compared to Jupiter)
Jupiter and Earth move around the Sun in an orbit that is not always perfectly circular.
Now Earth is closest to Jupiter while the massive ball of gas is closest to the Sun.
The intersection of the two events, which will not occur again until 2139, will make the gas planet appear brighter and larger in the sky.
On Tuesday it will reach “opposition” – then the planet will appear opposite the Sun on Earth.
The planet’s closest approach to Earth hardly ever coincides with opposition, meaning this year’s prospects will be “extraordinary,” according to NASA.
However, Jupiter will appear slightly larger and brighter over the next few weeks.
Although it’s one of the few planets that can be seen with the naked eye, NASA still recommends using some sort of telescopic instrument to look at it
Jupiter will be directly over Australia at midnight and should be visible all night barring cloud cover or bright lights (pictured is a snapshot of the planet taken by the Juno spacecraft in 2019).
Professor Horner said the planet will be in the darkest part of the sky where there are less bright stars.
“That makes it even more distinct…there’s nothing that can compete with Jupiter,” Professor Horner said.
He added that by midnight it will be directly over Australia and should be visible throughout the night as long as there is no cloud cover or bright lights.
Jupiter should be visible at a fainter scale for the next few months.
It can be seen at sunset when people face east, and west at sunrise.
Professor Horner said the planet will be in the darkest part of the sky where there are less bright stars
Although it’s one of the few planets that can be seen with the naked eye, NASA still recommends using some sort of telescopic instrument to look at it.
A 4-inch or larger telescope would allow observers to see Jupiter’s Great Red Spot and its bands in more detail.
The Red Spot is a centuries-old storm system large enough to engulf the Earth.
Jupiter has fascinated astronomers since its discovery in 1610 by Galileo Galilei with a small telescope he designed.
It has a radius of 69,911 km, while Earth’s equatorial radius is 6,378 km. So if Earth were the size of a grape, Jupiter would be the size of a basketball.
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