Opposition of Jupiter

Posted September 05, 2010 by User 1

This month, Jupiter reaches opposition -- directly opposite the sun from Earth. That will make it appear the biggest it will be during this year. And that really does mean something considering how it ALWAYS looks big.

In July, Earth passed through aphelion, its farthest point from the sun along its orbit. By chance, Jupiter is also passing through perihelion in just a few months (March, 2011), the closest point to the sun in its 12 year orbit. With Earth being near its furthest point and Jupiter near its closest point to the sun, the planet will appear much larger than it did in previous years.

Currently, the giant planet has an apparent diameter of 49". On September 21st, Jupiter will peak at 51", the biggest since 1999. By contrast, in 2004, it peaked at "only" 44" in diameter.

The best time to observe would be at sideral midnight when the planet is the highest above the local horizon.


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