This Monday, September 26, the largest planet in the Solar System, JupiterJupiter, will be in opposition. This means that it will be aligned with the Earth and the SoleilSoleil and that you can admire it all night, more sparkling than ever in 2022. Why? Because this year, its opposition coincides, within a few hours, with its smallest distance from our Planet. It is therefore this Sunday, September 25 that the gas giantgas giant will have reached the point in its orbit closest to the Earth. Only some 591 million kilometers. The planet hasn’t been this close to us since 1963!
Comment observer Jupiter ?
It is therefore an excellent period for observing Jupiter. at theeyeeye naked of course, and/or with an instrument if you have one. And if this is not the case, perhaps you know someone who has a telescope or telescope, or there is a structure near you which offers observation evenings to the public (club astronomy, astronomy center, some planetariums, etc.). Also, feel free to aim for the giant planetgiant planet with a pair of binoculars it works very well, because then you will see its four largest MondayMonday (of the 79 known): IoIo, Europe, Ganymede and Callsito. You will also note that this luminous point in the sky becomes a small disc (a sphere in reality) where one can discern, guess, cloud bands.
These days, then, Jupiter appears in the eyepieceseyepieces a little larger than usual since it is closer to the Earth, for the pleasure of the curious and the astronomersastronomers amateurs (beginner or confirmed and heavily equipped). The pictures will rain on the social networkssocial networks. Many of them, after significant processing work, delight us with the richness of the details captured on the gas giant (different cloud bands and spots in the upper atmosphereatmosphere). Of course, as for each celestial observation, it is strongly recommended to favor a site in the countryside, devoid of light pollutionlight pollution in order to make the most of it, in the dark of night. And the morestarstar will be high in the sky, the less he will be bothered by the turbulenceturbulence atmosphere near the horizon.
Jupiter, ruler of the sky
Jupiter orbits the Sun in 12 Earth years, which allows it to pass through a constellation of the zodiaczodiac per year on average, which are aligned with theeclipticecliptic (the plane of the orbit of all the planets). Currently, the gas giant is in the PiscesPiscesabove the Whale’s tail and not far from NeptuneNeptune (discover Neptune observed by James-Webb) — view from Earth. But the latter, the farthest from the Sun, does not shine bright enough to be seen with the naked eye.
Currently 590 million kilometers away (its average distance is 779 million kilometers), Jupiter necessarily shines a little brighter than in other years. You have probably already noticed it in the sky, sparkling, halfway between the horizon and the zenith, above the southeast, at the end of the evening. As it is a planet, a celestial body relatively close to us (it is only 33 light-minutes away!) unlike the starsstarsJupiter does not twinkle.
For this period of opposition, the gas giant will reign supreme over the entire night, without Moon or VenusVenus to compete with him. It rises in the east, just opposite the setting Sun, then dips below the western horizon when the solar star returns. It makes for beautiful full nights to scrutinize it and follow the dance of its satellites.
Article of Xavier DemeersmanXavier Demeersman published on June 10, 2019
In opposition on June 10, Jupiter is closest to Earth and visible all night. The Earth is right between the giant and the Sun. It’s time to enjoy it, with the naked eye, binoculars or a telescope.
Today, June 10, around 3 p.m. UT, or 5 p.m. Paris time, Jupiter was in opposition. In other words, the biggest planet in the Solar systemSolar system is aligned with the Sun and the Earth. It is therefore the best time to admire it, from dusk to dawn. And this year, it shines all the more as the distance which separates us from it is only 641 million kilometres. Passing from southeast to southwest, the gas giant peaks in the sky over the south around 1:30 a.m. Even the red AntaresAntares (magnitudemagnitude 1), which is not far away, looks very pale next to Jupiter (magnitude -2.6).
In 2019, the planet crosses the neighboring “house” of Scorpio, the Serpentarius, thirteenth constellation of the zodiac, also called Ophiuchus. Its stars draw the son of Apollo in Greek mythology Asclepius (Asculapius for the Romans). Having followed the teachings of the Centaur Chiron (Sagittarius is next), the hero was considered the master of snakes. He holds one in his hands. Currently, we can therefore see the “wandering star” (etymology of the word planet) sneaking near one of the two feet of Ophiuchus, at the edge of the hazehaze silver of the Milky WayMilky Waywhich we guess in the background, stained with dark cloudsclouds of dust. It’s a magnificent context, but it has the disadvantage that to our latitudeslatitudes medium, the gas giant is not very high above the horizon, its rays pass through a thick layer of the atmosphere which results in stronger turbulence and less sharp images, to the chagrin of amateur astronomers .
Comment observer Jupiter ?
deity of the lightlight, “thunderthrower” for Homer, Jupiter-Zeus (same etymology) fills all those curious about the sky who contemplate it. With a pair of binoculars, you will not be too bothered by the turbulence and you will enjoy the dance of its largest moons: Ganymede, CallistoCallisto, Europe and Io. These are its four Galilean satellites (GalileoGalileo was the first to observe them), four small diamondsdiamonds which you can follow movementsmovements over the night.
In a telescope or telescope, with a higher magnification, you will marvel at looking at (or discovering) the belts ocherocher of the gas giant, the equatorial bands, and of course, the Great Red Spot. Known for three and a half centuries, this orange-red eye – a anticycloneanticyclone – intrigues astronomers by its nature and, more recently, by its observed large size changes. Not only is its size visibly shrinking (so to speak) but its edges seem to be crumbling and mixing with the equatorial band in recent weeks. Is the Great Red Spot disappearing?
Although in opposition today, Jupiter will remain visible every summer evening. And on several occasions, the Moon will come to keep him company (a conjunctionconjunction), as on June 16th.