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‘Jupiter closest to earth, appears now brightest and biggest’ : PSI

Hyderabad, One of the exciting celestial phenomena of the year, “Jupiter coming close to earth’ occurred on Friday. Informing this to UNI on Saturday, Planetary Society of India (PSI) Director N Sri Raghunandan Kumar said as a result of this, celestial phenomenon Planet Jupiter ( known as Bruhaspati/Guru ) is now closest to Earth.

He said in view of Jupiter coming close to earth it is now brightest and appears biggest than anytime in entire year of 2021. Its known fact all Planets (including Earth, Jupiter etc) orbit Sun. During the course of their Journey around Sun the positions of Earth & Jupiter are such that now they will have face off which is known as ‘Jupiter Opposition with Sun’. In other words, due to this phenomenon of opposition Sun- Earth- Jupiter would be opposite to each other from our perspective on earth. And if one can see them from above they would appear in a Line where Sun and Jupiter on either side of earth.

Due to Opposition, an observer can easily locate Jupiter looking opposite direction to Sun Set in the evening. Similarly in the morning, the observer has to look opposite direction of Sunrise to locate Jupiter. So all in all, due to Jupiter Opposition, as the Sun sets in west, Jupiter rises in the east (evening), whereas as Sun rises in the Morning, Jupiter sets in west. It means Jupiter right now is visible all through the night, Mr Kumar said.

Directions to Spot – Jupiter (with Similar Brightness till September 8, 2021) – Timings : The PSI Director said in the Evening, 30 minutes after the Sunset if one can look towards East direction quite opposite to direction of sunset one would see Jupiter rising as bright non-twinkling object. Being visible all through the night, at Midnight one can facing South find Jupiter high above head. Morning Walkers 1 hour before Sunrise towards West, quite opposite Direction to Sunrise one can spot planet Jupiter.

What is Jupiter 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 to a Month before and after opposition.

Mr Kumar said Jupiter oppositions occur every 13 months. The last opposition of Jupiter occurred on July 14, 2020 and the next would be on September 26, 2022.

Generally the minimum distance of Jupiter from earth is 588 Million kilometers approx. Whereas the Maximum distance is 967 Million km approx. Today the Jupiter will reach closest point at 4.01 AU or 600 million km which is very close compared to its minimum distance from earth.

Brightest – Similar Brightness – till Sept 8 :

Because of its closeness to earth as of now Planet Jupiter would appear big through telescope and very bright shining at -2.9 Magnitude up to September 8.

Decreasing Brightness as days pass on :

As earth races away from Jupiter in its orbit the distance between these planets increases day-by-day. Hence with growing distance the brightness gets reduced gradually. Presently Jupiter is shining at – 2.9 magnitude and will remain so till September 8 whereas it will be -2.8 (from September 9 to October 1), -2.7 (from October 2 to 17), – 2.6 (October 18 to November 1), -2.5 (November 2 to 15, – 2.4 (November 16 to December 1), – 2.3 ( December 2 to 18 ), and – 2.2 (December 19 to 31).

In Astronomy brightness of a Celestial Objects is measured in Magnitude wherein greater Negative Magnitude indicates greater brightness, he said.

On January 1, 2021 Jupiter was shining at – 2.0 whereas now till September 8, Jupiter is brightest at -2.9 Magnitude. All in all, Planet Jupiter can be spotted with naked eye in the evening sky till the end of 2021. 

Further Jupiter continues to be visible in the evening sky till last week of February 2022, Mr Kumar added.




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