The largest planet in our solar system is going to be closer to earth than it has been in 59 years on Monday, September 26. We will be able to observe Jupiter in all its glory from a distance of approximately 367 million miles at its closest. The last time it was so close to us was in 1963. To put that number into perspective, Jupiter can be around 600 million miles from us at its farthest.
The gas giant will be in ‘opposition’ from the viewpoint of Earth’s surface. This means that Jupiter will rise in the East as the Sun sets in the West, putting them on opposite sides of Earth. Opposition is no extraordinary phenomenon, as it takes place every 13 months. But this time, Jupiter’s closest approach to Earth while orbitting the sun coincides with opposition. Therefore, we can expect extraordinary and rare views of the planet.
“With good binoculars, the banding (at least the central band) and three or four of the Galilean satellites (moons) should be visible.” NASA quoted Adam Kobelski, a research astrophysicist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, in a blog post. “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.”
He recommends using a 4 inch-or-larger telescope with some filters in the green to blue range to view Jupiter best. A high elevation location in a dry and dark area would be ideal to observe the sky from.
“The views should be great for a few days before and after Sept. 26,” NASA quoted Kobelski. “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.”