However, it’s not too close. It’s over 365 million miles away, but that’s about as close as it ever gets. Next Monday, the giant planet reaches opposition, when the planet and the Sun are on opposite side of the Earth. The planet rises in the east as the Sun sets in the west.
Jupiter’s opposition occurs every 13 months, but during this opposition, it will also make its closest approach to Earth in the last 70 years. The orbits of the planets are ellipses with the Sun, so planets will pass each other at different distances at opposition. Jupiter’s closest approach to Earth rarely coincides with opposition. This year’s views should be extraordinary. Grab a pair of binoculars or a telescope and take a look.
Image Credit: NASA / ESA / A. Simon (GSFC), and M.H. Wong (UC Berkeley)