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Saturday, September 24, 2022
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Jupiter to Come the Closest to Earth in Six Decades

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Jupiter | Image by NASA

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Jupiter will be the closest to Earth it has been in almost six decades on Monday night, September 26.

The planet will be in “opposition” that night, meaning that it will be opposite the sun. As the sun sets, Jupiter will rise in the east.


Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system; it is 11 times larger than Earth. According to NASA, the planet opposition, which occurs once every 13 or so months for Jupiter, makes the planet appear larger and brighter.

Additionally, like this year, the planet will come much closer than it normally does, as Jupiter and Earth do not orbit the sun in perfect circles.

Usually, Jupiter’s opposition and nearness do not coincide as they will on Monday, meaning the view will be that much more improved.

At its furthest away, Jupiter is about 600 million miles away from Earth, but Monday night, it will probably be almost half that — 367 million miles — as it was in 1963.

The best place to see the enormous planet is somewhere at a high elevation, in a dark and dry area.

To see the planet in more detail, one should use a more powerful telescope, but even with binoculars, one may be able to see the central bands.

It should be easily spottable in the days leading up to Monday, as one of the brightest things in the sky.

Four of the Galilean satellites or moons of Jupiter may be visible with the right equipment. Jupiter has 53 named moons, but probably around 80 moons in total. The moons, if sighted, will appear on either side of Jupiter as bright dots.

The NASA satellite Juno has been orbiting Jupiter and collecting pictures and data since 2016.

NASA plans to send a spacecraft through the Van Allen radiation belts in 2024 to Jupiter’s moon Europa to determine whether its conditions would be able to sustain life.     

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