Jupiter in opposition: How to see the godfather of the solar system at its largest and brightest

As night approaches and the sun begins to set earlier each day, the fall months can provide excellent stargazing opportunities, without the coldness of winter.

Jupiter will be in opposition on September 26 this year, but what exactly does it mean when we say that a planet is in opposition? How do you spot Jupiter in opposition? In which constellation will Jupiter appear? The answers to these, and more, are below.

If you can still enjoy the warm weather and (relatively) clear nights, why not make the most of it with our site UK full moon calendar And the Astronomy guide for beginners? And in case you missed it, we’ve rounded up the best images Harvest Moon in 2022.

What is the opposition?

Opposition is basically the planetary equivalent of full moon. When the planet is close to the Earth, and on the other side of the Earth the sunWe describe it as that planet in opposition. The bright sunlight is reflected off the planet exactly the same way that all the sunlight is reflected off the moon every 29.53 days in the lunar cycle.

As the outer planets orbit the sun, the Earth occasionally finds itself between the sun and another planet, with all three aligned directly. Interceptors can often provide the best opportunity to observe and photograph a particular planet due to its favorable location and brightness.

In opposition to Jupiter, Earth would lie directly between Jupiter and the Sun, and would remain in the sky above the horizon most of the night.

Only those planets that are outside the Earth’s orbit can be opposing, namely Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Since Mercury and Venus revolve around the Sun within the trajectory of the Earth’s orbit, they cannot be in opposition.

When is the buyer in opposition?

Jupiter will reach opposition one day Monday 26 September 2022, when it’s the earliest and brightest of the year, essentially creating a “full” Jupiter. The King of the Solar System will rise at sunset, at 6:52 pm on Monday, September 26 and will remain above the horizon until 6:57 am on Tuesday, September 27, 2022, as seen from London (times vary by location).

Weather permitting, we can expect to get a perfect view of Jupiter. When Jupiter reaches opposition, the gas giant will be 591.3 million kilometers (3.95 AU) from Earth.

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What will you be able to see?

To naked eye observers, Jupiter will appear as a very bright spot of light that, unlike stars, does not twinkle. A suitable set of binoculars (magnification 7x to 10x) will give you a view of the four largest moons of Jupiter, Ganymede, Europa, Callisto and Io, and the telescope will allow you to see the lines of Jupiter.

How can you see Jupiter in opposition tonight © Getty Images

The bands of Jupiter, the Great Red Dot, and even clouds can be seen through the telescope. Jupiter has a rapid rotation, and the eyes of an eagle may be able to discern the appearance slightly caused by its bright disk.

From about 6:52 p.m. on Monday, September 26, Jupiter will rise in the eastern sky, in the constellation Pisces. As the night progresses, the planet will travel east and reach its highest levels in the middle of the night before sunset, disappearing below the horizon at 6:57 a.m. the next day.

If you’re interested in astrophotography or creating animations for Jupiter, expert Pete Lawrence has put together this helpful guide on How to make planetary animation.

How can I spot Jupiter in the night sky?

Jupiter is one of the brightest objects in the night sky, which makes it relatively easy to spot, even without a telescope. If you struggle with guidance, there is astronomy apps You can download it – all you have to do is point your phone towards the sky and the app will tell you what it is.

For those of you who prefer star-hopping, look toward the southeast after sunset. Jupiter will rise in the constellation Pisces, which can be seen anywhere in the world, except Antarctica. Although Pisces is a large constellation, its stars are relatively dim. However, its distinct V-shape is one of the largest star formations in the sky.

You can find Pisces by locating summer triangle, tracing an imaginary line from the bright star Vega and dividing the triangle perpendicular to the base, which consists of Altair and Deneb. This line indicates the head of the western fish in Pisces. Jupiter will sit below the western fish.

Jupiter reaches opposition on September 26, 2022 ©NASA/ESA/ESO/Space Telescope Science Institute/IAU Minor Planet Center/Fabien Chereau/Noctua Software

How often does opposition occur?

Each of the planets collides with each other on an approximately annual basis. This is because the Earth has a faster orbit that passes between these planets and the Sun. The exception is Mars, which is nearby every 26 months Because it is relatively close to Earth in the solar system. Jupiter enters opposition every 13 months.

Jupiter’s 12-year cycle

Jupiter is within the zodiac circle of the sky, moving through about 1/12 of its orbit each year (one orbit is about 12 years).

In other words, it takes Jupiter about 12 months to cross one of the zodiac signs and move to the next. This means that Jupiter goes into opposition every 13 months, and the planet will pass through all of the zodiac signs over a 12-year period.

Like other planets, Jupiter travels from west to east across the night sky, against the background of distant stars and galaxies. However, when the planet is in opposition, it also enters a period clear retrograde motionwhen it seems to be moving backwards for a while.

Here are the constellations in which Jupiter will appear during the next 12-year cycle:

  • September 26, 2022: Pisces
  • November 1, 2023: Aries
  • December 6, 2024: the Bull
  • January 9, 2026: Twins
  • February 10, 2027: Leo
  • March 13, 2028: Virgo
  • April 13, 2029: Virgo
  • May 14, 2030: Balance
  • June 16, 2031: Ophiuchus
  • July 20, 2032: Sagittarius
  • August 25, 2033: Aquarius
  • October 2, 2034: Back in Pisces

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