PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Stargazers will have a special view on the night of Monday, Sept. 26 as Jupiter reaches opposition to Earth. The event is expected to provide an excellent view in the night sky all night long.
Opposition happens when an astronomical object rises in the east as the sun sets in the west, which places the object and the sun on opposite sides of Earth, according to NASA.
Jupiter's opposition happens every 13 months, making the planet seem larger and brighter in the night sky.
However, this event will be different as the planet will make its closest approach to Earth in the last 59 years.
According to NASA, Jupiter's closest approach to Earth rarely coincides with opposition, so the view of the gas giant planet on Monday is expected to be extraordinary.
At its closest approach, Jupiter will be 367 million miles from Earth, which is about the same distance it was in 1963. At its furthest point, the planet is approximately 600 miles away.
“With good binoculars, the banding (at least the central band) and three or four of the Galilean satellites (moons) should be visible,” said Adam Kobelski, a research astrophysicist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
Kobelski recommended that stargazers use a larger telescope if they want to see Jupiter's Great Red Spots and bands in more detail. He also recommended that an ideal viewing location would be high in elevation and in a dark, dry area.
However, if cloudy skies or rainy weather obscure the night sky on Sept. 26, it's not all doom and gloom. Kobleski told NASA that the view of Jupiter should still be great leading up to and a few days after Sept. 26.
Besides the moon, Jupiter should be one of the brightest objects in the night sky in the coming days.