Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, will be the closest it has been to Earth in nearly 60 years Monday night.
Rachel Ward-Maxwell, Ph.D., Researcher-Programmer, Astronomy and Space Sciences at the Ontario Science Center told CTV News Toronto that the gas giant is at its opposition, meaning it is directly opposite the Sun from what we can see on Earth. .
“You can think of it like a sandwich. You have Earth positioned between the Sun and Jupiter, and when Jupiter is closest to us, it looks like it’s one of the brightest objects in our sky,” she said. “It will actually be the brightest object in our sky tonight.”
The last time Jupiter was this close to Earth was 59 years ago, in 1963, and Ward-Maxwell says the next time this happens will be in 2129.
“The next opposition will be in November 2023,” Ward-Maxwell said. “But the time when it’s brightest and closest will be more than 100 years until it’s as close as it is now.”
While the planet will be at its brightest on Monday night, stargazers will still be able to see Jupiter shine brightly for the next few nights. The planet will be visible even until early 2023.
HOW CAN I SEE JUPITER?
Jupiter will be visible in the eastern sky shortly after the Sun sets at 7 pm EST, according to Ward-Maxwell, and will get higher and higher in the sky as the night progresses.
However, clear skies and clear views will be better for viewing. According to the Weather NetworkThe forecast for Toronto is for rain and some cloudy skies after 10:00 p.m.
Since Jupiter will be so close, you will be able to see it without using a telescope or binoculars. But if you have any of these, there will be some additional bonuses.
“If you have a good pair of binoculars or a telescope, it doesn’t have to be very powerful, but you will still be able to see some of the details or features of Jupiter,” Ward-Maxwell said. . “Jupiter is a gas giant planet, it has different colored cloud tops…you can see different bands of clouds and different colors and the Great Red Spot, a giant storm on Jupiter.”
Stargazers with binoculars can also see Jupiter’s four largest moons.
Outside of Jupiter, Ward-Maxwell says that Mars and Saturn will be visible in the sky, although they won’t be as bright.
WHERE CAN I SEE IT?
“Even if you’re in a city with light pollution, it will be so bright that you can almost certainly see it brighter than any star in our main sky,” Ward-Maxwell said.
If you plan to view Jupiter when the Sun rises or when it’s low in the eastern sky at sunset, finding a spot with a high elevation that isn’t blocked by surrounding trees or buildings will be key.
Ward-Maxwell recommends hitting any nearby park, or if you’re in Toronto, hitting the lakeside beaches for a glimpse of Jupiter.
“I think that even if you could take a walk down the street and find a clear, clear view of the southeastern sky… you could see it,” he said. “You won’t have to go very, very far, because it’s going to be very bright and very tall.”