Jupiter in opposition and closest to Earth since 1963

The Earth is directly between Jupiter and the Sun
Published: Sep. 26, 2022 at 9:39 PM CDT
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - For the first time since 1963, Jupiter is at it’s closest point to Earth. Sitting at approximately 367 million miles away, this is the closest Jupiter has been within the last six decades.

If you take a look into the sky tonight, you’re bound to see it regardless of if you have a telescope or not.

“The Moon would be brighter if the moon is up, but we’re in the new moon phase right now,” Dr. Caroline Roberts, the manager of Van Allen Observatories in Iowa City. “And so really won’t be an instance where the moon will be around too much. And certainly just observe it with the naked eye, this is the brightest Jupiter will ever appear for decades.”

Being in opposition means that the Earth is directly between Jupiter and the Sun. The next time Jupiter will be in opposition and at it’s closest point will be the year 2129.

“It’s really the biggest in your lifetime,” Roberts said. “But know that know that when you’re looking at Jupiter tonight, and in the coming days, this is the biggest and the brightest that you will ever see it potentially even the biggest and the brightest that you know your children might ever see it. And that’s pretty cool.”

Lee Carkner, the Director of the John Deere Planetarium at Augustana College says the ability to look into essentially another world with the naked eye is sometimes taken for granted

“But if we look at it in more detail, you know, it kind of makes us think a little bit about our place in the universe, all the things that are out there, and we look at planets like Jupiter, or Saturn or Mars, those are other worlds like ours that are out there, orbiting. And when we look up at them, we’re also looking at them the same way that our ancestors looked at them 1000s of years ago and wondered what was up there in space?” Carkner said.

If you want to see Jupiter at it’s brightest, either tonight or tomorrow morning will be your best bet so grab some friends and family and take a quick walk and look at the sky.

“Just kind of spend some time appreciating the sky. Don’t just look for Jupiter. Spend some time with your family with your friends, and just enjoy everything up in the sky tonight,” Roberts said.