In a few days, on September 26, largest planet in the solar system, JupiterJupiter, will be in opposition. This means that it will be aligned with the Earth and the SunSun and that you can admire it all night, more sparkling than ever in 2022. Why? Because this year, her opposition coincides, in a few hours, with her shortest distance from our Planet. In fact, on September 25 the gas giant will have reached the point of its orbitorbit closest to Earth. Only about 590 million kilometers. This hadn’t happened since 1963!
How to observe Jupiter?
Therefore, it is an excellent period to observe Jupiter. in theeyeeye naked of course, and/or with an instrument if you have one. If not, maybe you know someone who has a telescopetelescope or a telescope, or there is a structure near you that offers viewing evenings to the public (astronomy club, astronomy center, certain planetariums, etc.). Otherwise, one solution is to point to the giant planetgiant planet with binoculars it works very well, then you will see its four largest moonsmoons (of the 79 known): memeEurope, GanymedeGanymede and Callsito. He will also notice that this luminous point usually visible to the naked eye in the sky becomes a small disc (a sphere actually) where bands of clouds can be distinguished, guessed.
So these days Jupiter is displayed on the eyepieceseyepieces a little larger than usual, to the delight of the curious and the astronomersastronomers amateurs (beginners or confirmed and very equipped) and the photos will rain down on the social networkssocial networks. Many of them, after a lot of processing work, are very impressive due to the richness of details of the gas giant (different bands of clouds and spots in the upper part atmosphereatmosphere). Of course, as for each celestial observation, it is strongly recommended to favor a site in the field, devoid of light pollutionlight pollution to make the most of it, in the dead of night. and how much morestarstar will be high in the sky, the less will be disturbed by the turbulenceturbulence atmospheric, so troublesome near the horizon.
Jupiter, ruler of the sky
Jupiter revolves around the Sun in 12 Earth years, which allows it to cross a constellationconstellation of the zodiac 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 of the Earth. But the latter, the furthest from the Sun, is not 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, twinkling, halfway between the horizon and the zenithzenith, over the southeast, in the late afternoon. 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.
During this period of opposition, the gas giant will reign throughout the night, without the Moon or VenusVenus to compete with him. It rises in the east, directly opposite the setting Sun, then sinks below the western horizon as the solar star returns. It makes beautiful nights full to scrutinize it and follow the dance of its satellites.
article of Xavier DemeersmannXavier Demeersmann published on June 10, 2019
At opposition on June 10, Jupiter is closest to Earth and is visible all night. The Earth is right between the giant and the Sun. It’s time to enjoy it, with the naked eye, with binoculars or with a telescope.
Today, June 10, around 15:00 UT, that is, 17:00 Paris time, Jupiter he was in opposition. In other words, the largest planet in the Solar systemSolar system it is aligned with the Sun and the Earth. It is therefore the best time to admire it, from dusk to dawn. And this year shines all the more since the distance that separates us from it is only 641 million kilometers. Passing from southeast to southwest, the gas giant peaks in the sky over the south around 1:30 a.m. Even the red Antares (magnitudemagnitude 1), which is not very far, 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 (Asculapio for the Romans). Having followed the teachings of the centaur Chiron (next is Sagittarius), the hero was considered the master of snakes. He has one in his hands. Today we can therefore see the “wandering star” (etymology of the word planet) stealthily approaching one of Ophiuchus’ two feet, at the edge of the hazehaze silver of the Milky WayMilky Waythat we guess in the background, tinted dark cloudsclouds of dust It is a magnificent context, but it has the inconvenience that for our latitudeslatitudes Medium, the gas giant is not very high above the horizon, its rays pass through a thick layer of the atmosphere resulting in stronger turbulence and less sharp images, much to the chagrin of amateur astronomers.
How to observe Jupiter?
deity of the lightlight, “thunder thrower” for Homer, Jupiter-Zeus (same etymology) fills all those curious in the sky who contemplate it. With binoculars, you won’t be too bothered by turbulence and you’ll enjoy the dance of its largest moons: Ganymede, callistocallisto, Europe and Io. These are its four Galilean satellites (GalileanGalilean was the first to observe them), four small diamondsdiamonds whose movements you can follow throughout the night.
In a telescope or telescope, with higher magnification, you will marvel at (or discover) 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 blending with the equatorial band in recent weeks. Is the Great Red Spot disappearing?
Although today at opposition, Jupiter will remain visible every summer afternoon. And on various occasions, the Moon will come to keep him company (a conjunctionconjunction), on June 16.