Jupiter will make its closest pass by Earth in nearly 60 years today

Stewart Perrie

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Jupiter will make its closest pass by Earth in nearly 60 years today

Featured Image Credit: NASA Image Collection / Alamy Stock Photo. BIOSPHOTO / Alamy Stock Photo

Stargazers, you might want to pull out your telescopes as Jupiter will make its closest approach to Earth for the first time in almost 60 years today (Monday, September 26).

According to NASA, the largest planet in the Solar System will be approximately 591 million km (367 miles) from Earth, which is roughly the same distance it was in 1963.

Forget the 2015 box office failure starring Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum; this time, it's truly Jupiter Ascending.

NASA also revealed that Jupiter would align directly in front of the sun, to form what scientists call ‘opposition’.

Opposition for Jupiter is actually quite common, as it occurs every 13 months and approaches Earth usually once a year, according to Space.com.

It's when the sun, earth and Jupiter form a straight line, with our lovely little celestial body sitting in between.

Research astrophysicist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Adam Kobelski, said spectacular views are to be expected as the gas planet approaches.

He said in a statement: “With good binoculars, the banding (at least the central band) and three or four of the Galilean satellites (moons) should be visible.

“It’s important to remember that Galileo observed these moons with 17th century optics. One of the key needs will be a stable mount for whatever system you use.”

Credit: Science Photo Library / Alamy Stock Photo
Credit: Science Photo Library / Alamy Stock Photo

But rest assured, if you miss it tonight, these stunning views will last for a couple of days.

He added: “So, take advantage of good weather on either side of this date to take in the sight. Outside of the Moon, it should be one of the (if not the) brightest objects in the night sky.”

However, Kobelski recommends investing in a bigger telescope to see famous Jupiter's Great Red Spot and bands in more detail. 

He suggests opting for a four-inch or larger telescope and some filters in the green to the blue range to enhance the visibility of its features.

Dr Martin George from the International Planetarium Society also noted that Australian skies would look especially extraordinary, as per Australian Geographic.

He added: “It’s simply the very best time in a fine period for Jupiter observation.

“Over the past several days and over the next few days, the distance between Earth and Jupiter changes only very slightly. Jupiter’s apparent size would be undetectably different through the telescope for many nights before and after tonight.”

Topics: News, Space

Stewart Perrie
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