On September 26, when Jupiter reaches opposition, astronomers can look forward to seeing the giant planet in one of its best views in the past 70 years.
Opposition occurs when an astronomical object rises in the east as the Sun sets in the west, placing the object and the Sun on opposite sides of Earth from the perspective of the planet’s surface. Every 13 months, Jupiter is in opposition, making it appear bigger and brighter than at any other time of the year. That’s not all, though.
NASA said, “Jupiter’s closest approach to Earth rarely coincides with opposition, which means this year’s views will be extraordinary.” Jupiter will be roughly 365 million miles from Earth when it makes its closest approach.
At its farthest point, the planet is roughly 600 million miles from Earth.
“Three or four of the Galilean satellites (moons) should be visible with good binoculars, at least the central band,” “Adam Kobelski, a research astronomer at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, said.
It’s crucial to keep in mind that Galileo used optics from the 17th century to observe these moons. A stable mount for whatever system you use will be one of the essential requirements, he added.
A four-inch or larger telescope and some filters in the green to the blue range would enhance the visibility of these features, according to Kobelski, who advises using a larger telescope to see Jupiter’s Great Red Spot and bands in greater detail.
Kobelski believes that the best viewing spot will be at a high elevation in a dry, dark area. Jupiter has 53 named moons, but researchers estimate that 79 have actually been found. The Galilean satellites are the name given to the four largest moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.
The mission of NASA’s Juno spacecraft, which has been orbiting Jupiter for six years, is to study the surface and moons of the planet. Researchers think they can make ground-breaking discoveries about how the solar system formed by studying Jupiter.