(WHTM) — NASA says people can get great views of Jupiter throughout the night of Monday, Sept. 26, when the planet reaches opposition and makes its closest approach to Earth in the last 59 years.
Opposition happens when an astronomical object rises in the east as the sun sets in the west, putting the object — like the planet Jupiter — and the sun on opposite sides of Earth, NASA explains. Jupiter reaches opposition every 13 months, and during that time, it appears larger and brighter than at any other time of year.
“Jupiter’s closest approach to Earth rarely coincides with opposition, which means this year’s views will be extraordinary,” NASA’s website says.
Jupiter will be about 367 million miles from Earth at its closest approach, according to NASA. (At its farthest distance from Earth, it’s about 600 million miles away.)
According to Adam Kobelski, a research astrophysicist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, stargazers during opposition should be able to see at least Jupiter’s central band and some of its moons — which will look like bright dots on either side of the planet — with only a pair of good binoculars. Those using a larger telescope may be able to see its Great Red Spot and bands in more detail.
In an article from NASA, Kobelski said the views of Jupiter should be extra good a few days before and after Sept. 26, as well as on the day itself, so stargazers can hopefully find a night with clear skies to see the spectacle.