Wednesday, September 22, 2010
In addition to being the closest Earth will be to Jupiter all year, this is also the closest Earth has been to the giant planet since 1963. That is because Jupiter is close to perihelion, its closest point in its orbit to the Sun. As you can see in the graphic above, Jupiter's orbit is slightly eccentric, and right now it is closer to the Sun (and the Earth) than it would be on the opposite side of its orbit (near apohelion), which is slightly off the graphic that is centered on the Sun. This makes this opposition a particularly good one to check out. Don't forget though that even if you are unable to check out Jupiter tonight, it will still be an excellent target to view for the next couple of months, though it will become more and more a planet to view in the evening.
ALPO-Japan site, where astronomers from around the world post their latest and greatest shots. Another great site to check out is Cloudy Nights forum, which includes some great discussion of how these images are taken.
So please, definitely take this chance to look up at Jupiter!