Jupiter to swing closer to Earth than it has for 59 years next week

Jupiter will be clearly visible in the sky next Monday night (September 26) as it makes its closest approach to Earth in 59 years.

It will come within 367million miles of Earth compared to the 600million miles that separate the two planets when they are at their furthest apart.

Jupiter's visibility will be particularly striking as it will be in opposition meaning, when the Sun is setting in the west, it will be rising in the eastern sky, with Nasa Marshall Space Flight Center research astrophysicist Adam Kobelski saying: "Outside of the Moon, it should be one of the (if not the) brightest objects in the night sky."

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The last time Jupiter was this close to Earth was in 1963, according to a Nasa blog.

And anybody wanting to view a bright and relatively close Jupiter should look to the eastern horizon at sunset on the nights leading up to next Monday, as well as Monday itself and the evenings following.

It is anticipated that naked eye viewing of the planet will be possible across that time period.

Better views will obviously be enjoyed through a telescope but even less powerful optical equipment should be sufficient to witness Jupiter and some of its 50-plus moons.

"With good binoculars, the banding (at least the central band) and three or four of the Galilean satellites (moons) should be visible," Dr Kobelski said.

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"It’s important to remember that Galileo observed these moons with 17th century optics."

The Galilean moons are Jupiter’s largest and are named Io, Europa, Ganeymede and Callisto.

A telescope of four inches or more should provide the clearest view of the planet, with the addition of green and blue filters likely to guarantee the best sight of Jupiter's Great Red Spot and the banding of its cloud layers.

"The views should be great for a few days before and after September 26," Dr Kobelski added. "So, take advantage of good weather on either side of this date to take in the sight."


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