SPOT PLANET JUPITER UNTIL MARCH 2011 – DUE TO OPPOSITION ON 21 SEPT
Planet Jupiter at its closest in Last 47 Years, brightest, biggest - next such opportunity only in 2022
Beginning 21/22 September - Spot Jupiter - naked eye – Opposite Sun in East (Evening)/West (Morning)
On 21st September, 2010 at 05:06 p.m. Planet Jupiter (Bruhaspati/Guru in Hindi/Telugu) would be at opposition and Closest to earth. Due to this phenomenon of opposition Sun- Earth- Jupiter would in one straight line and opposite to each other. Because of which an observer would note as the Sun sets in west Jupiter rises (east) in the evening, whereas as Sun rises in the Morning, Jupiter sets in the west. Importantly Planet Jupiter would be at the closest it can get to earth till year 2022. Jupiter would be shining, with similar brightness (-2.9 Magnitude) till third week of October 2010 appearing bigger and brighter than usual.
Importantly Jupiter can be spotted in evening skies until March 2011 after sunset with decreasing brightness as earth races farther way from Jupiter starting 21/22 Sept every day in its orbit.
20th /21st September 2010 - Closest Distance until 2022: Generally the minimum distance of Jupiter from earth is 588 Million kilometers approx. Whereas the Maximum distance is 967 Million km approx. On the night of 20th/21st September Jupiter would reach closest approach i.e. would at 594 million km which is very close to its minimum distance from earth and the closest in last 47 years. Jupiter was this close in 1963 and again would be this close only in 2022.
Biggest – Brighter: because of its closeness to earth Planet Jupiter would appear big and very bright shining at -2.9 Magnitude up to 24th October, 2010. Later on the brightness would reduce gradually as earth races away from Jupiter in its orbit shining at -2.8 (up to 10th Nov), -2.7 (up to 25th Nov) and finally - 2.1 up to end of March 2011.
DIRECTIONS TO SPOT – JUPITER – WITH SIMILAR BRIGHTNESS AS OF NOW UNTIL - MID OCTOER 2010 – TIMINGS : Evening: After an Hour after Sunset if one can look towards East direction quite opposite to direction of sunset one would see Jupiter rising. It will be visible all through the night, at Midnight one can spot it high above southern direction.
Morning Walkers: if one wants look at this big brother of our solar system during morning they can do so one hour before Sunrise towards West Direction quite opposite to where Sun would rise.
Uranus at Opposition on 21st Sept – Spot Mercury : Planet Uranus will also be at opposition on Sept. 21st. Being almost three times smaller and five times farther away than Jupiter, Uranus is barely visible to the naked eye. Further Due to greatest Western Elongation Planet Mercury (always hidden in Sun’s Glare) is far away from sun from our view on earth. Hence can be spotted for next few days in Morning hours in the eastern sky before sunrise.
What exactly is opposition ?
A planet (during course of its journey around sun) is said to be at opposition when it is directly opposite the Sun from our viewpoint on Earth. The result is that the planet is fully illuminated by the sun and appears disk-like. Importantly during opposition the planet in question would be at its closest approach and thus would appear more big and brighter than usual. At this point Sun-Earth- Planet would be in a straight line opposite to each other. Though planet is at opposition for only one day, nevertheless for visual purposes it is almost as good for viewing for a couple of weeks before and after opposition. Jupiter oppositions occur every 13 months. The last opposition of Jupiter was 14th August, 2009 and after this one, the next will be 29 October 2011.
Do we really require telescopes to observe Jupiter ? How to recognize planets in the sky in part of the year ? Do one needs to wait for Astronomers to confirm visibility of planets ?
Telescopes are required only if one wants to appreciate finer details of this planet. To Spot planets (in any part of year with naked eye) one has to remember/differentiate that as seen from earth though planets shine, they don’t twinkle/blink unlike stars. This is because planets merely reflect the sunlight whereas Stars radiate the light they produce.