In a week, Jupiter will be as close as possible to the Earth – it can be seen even with binoculars

Jupiter will reach opposition on the night of September 26th. The planet passes this milestone every 13 months, making it more visible in the night sky than at any other time of the year. However, this time Jupiter will also be at its closest point to Earth in the last 70 years.

This is because the Earth and Jupiter do not revolve around the Sun in perfect circles – they pass each other at different distances during the year. Jupiter’s closest approach to Earth rarely coincides with opposition, which means that the view of the largest planet in the solar system this year should be simply incredible.

At its minimum distance, Jupiter will be about 588 million km from Earth. Whereas at the farthest point the distance between the planets reaches 967 million km. Such proximity will make it possible to observe the gas giant even without specialized equipment.

With good binoculars, the bands (at least the central group) and three or four Galilean satellites (moons) should be visible. It is important to remember that Galileo observed these moons with 17th century optics. The main thing is a stable mount for any system you use.

Adam Kobelski

NASA astrophysicist in Gantsville (USA)

Jupiter and its three largest moons over the mountains of Salt Lake City on February 27, 2019. Photo: NASA/Bill Dunford

Any elevated position in the dark and dry zone would be ideal for viewing, Kobelski said, and the planet could be observed for several days before and after Sept. 26. Jupiter these days will be one of the brightest objects in the night sky, and the views should be simply magnificent, the scientist added.

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