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The visually spectacular Jupiter is about to make its closest approach to Earth in 59 years. The largest planet in our Solar System is now in opposition to Earth’s orbit. That puts it directly behind us — opposite from the Sun. It is also at its closest point to Earth today. This means you will get to see Jupiter at its largest and brightest in the night sky today. The sight will last for several days past September 26th if weather interferes with your sky view.
If you want to join other astronomers around the world in this rare and magnificent sight, read below to see where and how easily you can get a breathtaking look of our Solar System’s gas giant. You will even get to see Jupiter’s four large Galilean moons — Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto with a pair of binoculars.
The next time Jupiter will come this near to us on Earth will be October of 2129. So, don’t miss out unless you plan to be around 107 years from now!
Table of Contents
- Why Jupiter Is This Close To Earth Now
- Where To Look For Jupiter In The Night Sky
- Subscribe Today
- How To See Jupiter Up Close Without A Telescope
- Suggested Product: Celestron – UpClose G2 10×50 Binoculars
- Viewing Jupiter’s Four Large Galilean Moons
- Bottom Line On Jupiter’s Closest Approach To Earth In 2022
Why Jupiter Is This Close To Earth Now
Jupiter reaches opposition relative to Earth approximately every 13 months. Because planetary orbits are elliptical, opposition times and their closest point to Earth rarely match. This year’s opposition of Jupiter also coincides with its closest approach to Earth. So, on September 26th 2022 we get to see Jupiter as close as 367 million miles from us according to NASA.
Where To Look For Jupiter In The Night Sky
If you are not familiar with the constellations of the stars, don’t despair. The easiest way to find Jupiter during opposition is to look for the largest celestial object (other than the moon of course) in the post-dusk evening sky directly east. If you still need directional help then consider that Jupiter is in opposition to the Sun. So, when the Sun sets in the west, Jupiter will rise above the night horizon directly opposite in the east.
What happens when you are need to find another planet or star that is not the largest and brightest like Jupiter? The easiest tool is a stargazing app that you can download on your phone. We recommend SkyView Lite as it is the best of the free apps for amateur stargazers.
Once downloaded, SkyView accesses your precise geolocation from your phone. It then knows exactly where the stars are relative to you. Give the app access to your camera. Now when you point your phone up to any star you see, it will let you know the name along with other interesting information about that celestial body. There is also a search/find function. It will tell you which direction to move your phone to in order to find the celestial object you typed in. SkyView is easy to use and will make night sky watching enjoyable and less frustrating for any part-time astronomer.
Finding Jupiter With The SkyView App
In the screenshot above from the SkyView app taken just before sunset, we know that Jupiter will be rising up in the direction of the light blue dots as the night proceeds. Once it gets dark, wait a few hours for the planet to rise above the trees in the horizon for the best look.
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How To See Jupiter Up Close Without A Telescope
If you think the only way to enjoy the majesty of our night sky is with expensive telescopes, think again. The easiest and most fulfilling way to see Jupiter at its closest is with a pair of binoculars. Odds are you already have one in your house that would suffice.
For casual night sky viewing, a pair of binoculars with a 10×50 magnification is the best. Anything above that would need a fixed stand to remove shakiness in the viewport from small movements of your hands. The one I use is a 10×50 from Celestron and is less than $50.
Suggested Product: Celestron – UpClose G2 10×50 Binoculars
Stabilizing Your Binoculars For Extended Night Sky Viewing
The best upgrade, if you plan on doing additional stargazing, would be a binocular stand or tripod. For the short term, you can steady your hands as you watch the stars by placing them on a deck railing, fence or chair top. Be careful of your neck. Looking upwards for too long will strain it.
Viewing Jupiter’s Four Large Galilean Moons
With most binoculars, you can also see Jupiter’s four large Galilean moons — Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. Unless any of them are directly behind the planet. Use this online tool to get real-time tracking information of Jupiter’s moons. This way you will be able to know exactly which of the moons you are seeing with your binoculars.
Beware. If you’ve not seen Jupiter’s moons with a pair of binoculars before, prepare to be truly amazed. And to feel an urge to take up stargazing as a full-blown hobby in the near future.
Bottom Line On Jupiter’s Closest Approach To Earth In 2022
Jupiter makes its closest approach to Earth since 1963 as it enters opposition to the Sun and is also at its closest point to Earth on the same day (Sept 26). You will be able to see it at its largest in the night sky. Your household binoculars will bring it surprisingly close to you for a memorable view of this majestic planet, including its four Galilean moons.
If you miss seeing Jupiter on this day, don’t worry. It is still relatively large in the night sky for even the next month. Don’t miss this rare chance to see the second largest object of our Solar System up close. Happy stargazing!
Published 7:03 PM EDT, Mon September 26, 2022
Shaun Mendonsa, PhD is an influencing expert and pharmaceutical development leader. He writes on the topics of influence and persuasion, and develops next generation drugs in human pharma by advising international pharmaceutical CROs and CMOs. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jupiter Opposition; Stargazing; Night Sky Watching; Binoculars; SkyView App; Solar System
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