The solar system’s largest planet will be visible in NYC skies tonight during the celestial phenomenon called opposition. According to In-The-Sky.org, Jupiter will be visible in NYC today (September 26th) from 7:33pm to 6:08am. It should be one of the brightest things in the sky aside from the moon, shares Adam Kobelski, a research astrophysicist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
Opposition occurs when the Earth is directly between the Sun and another planet in the solar system. In this case, Earth, Jupiter and the Sun will all align, with Earth directly in between Jupiter and the Sun. Jupiter’s opposition only happens every 13 months, shares NASA.
According to Space.com, Jupiter will rise from the east as the sun simultaneously sets in the west, resulting in Jupiter’s perigee. To clarify, a perigee is when a point of orbit is the nearest to Earth. Thus, Jupiter will be the closest to Earth it has been since 1963, at approximately 367 million miles away. It’s rare that the planet’s perigree and opposition sync, making this an occurrence you don’t want to miss!
Jupiter will be making its closest approach to Earth in 59 years!
On Sept. 26, stargazers will have an excellent view of the gas giant as it makes its close approach and reaches opposition, rising in the east and setting in the west.
— NASA Marshall (@NASA_Marshall) September 19, 2022
Jupiter will be in the constellation of Pisces, reaching its highest point at 12:51 a.m. EDT, reports Space.com. They advise skywatchers to use “binoculars or a telescope from a dark and dry area with high elevation” for the best viewing.
“With good binoculars, the banding (at least the central band) and three or four of the Galilean satellites (moons) should be visible,” said Kobelski. “It’s important to remember that Galileo observed these moons with 17th century optics. One of the key needs will be a stable mount for whatever system you use.”
And though the spectacle should be visible for most of the night, you can also watch it online with the Virtual Telescope Project, beginning at 4:30pm EDT. Otherwise, the next chance to catch Jupiter’s opposition will be on November 3, 2023.
Learn more here.