Science

By Jove! Jupiter extra close, extra bright this week

By Jove! Jupiter extra close, extra bright this week

At a distance of 415 million miles (668 million kilometres), Jupiter is now closer to the Earth than at any other time during the year. It will appear to be its biggest and brightest compared to any other day this year.

This annual event is officially known as "opposition", because it's the point at which the planet is located directly opposite the sun in the sky.

In conjunction with its moons, Jupiter's gravitational field controls numerous asteroids that have settled into the areas of the Lagrangian points preceding and following Jupiter planet in the orbit around the Sun. Jupiter will rise over the eastern mountains just as the sun goes down in the west. During this phenomenon, the fifth planet and the biggest of our solar system will be illuminated by the sun and will appear to us like a disk.

Without a telescope, Jupiter is still quite distinct, with a characteristic orangey glow. The good news is that nothing will be able to dim papa Jupiter's glamour tonight as even Venus will shine for a short while, letting the planet take the centre stage.

Will you see Jupiter at Opposition?

Astronomer Amy Simon of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center arranged to have Hubble trained on the hemisphere that includes Jupiter's Great Red Spot and another whirling storm to the south, dubbed "Red Spot Jr".

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Thaller said that Jupiter's hurricane is larger than Earth and has been mysteriously shrinking.

Ahead of Jupiter's close encounter with the Earth, the United States space agency NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has captured a stunning picture of the gas giant, revealing its famous Great Red Spot.

The most recognisable feature on Jupiter is the huge anticyclonic storm, called the Great Red Spot - this storm is large enough to engulf a whole Earth-sized planet at once.

"With a simple pair of binoculars, you can spot three or four of Jupiter's largest moons", Samuhel adds.

NASA's Juno spacecraft launched in August 2011, took five years to reach Jupiter and has been orbiting around the gas giant ever since.

Lastly, on Monday evening (April 10), Earth's moon - just hours from turning full and itself opposite to the sun's place in the sky - will be positioned only a couple of degrees to the lower left of Jupiter as the two objects rise in the east-southeast when darkness falls.


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