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Jupiter to appear the biggest and brightest its been in 59 years TONIGHT

NASA research astrophysicist, Adam Kobelski, says stargazers should be able to see the planet and three or four of its largest moons with good binoculars.

Calling all Sagittarians! Your ruling planet, Jupiter, is about to appear in the sky tonight bigger and brighter than ever witnessed in many stargazer’s lifetimes, with the closest approach to Earth in 59 years.

Tonight (Monday 26 September) is the night the giant planet will reach “opposition”. NASA defines this term as “when an astronomical object rises in the east as the Sun sets in the west, placing the object and the Sun on opposite sides of Earth”.

While Jupiter’s opposition occurs every 13 months, Earth and Jupiter do not orbit the Sun in perfect circles, so the two planets pass each other at different distances.

Located a short 367 million miles away from Earth, Jupiter will be showing off some stunning views best witnessed with a large telescope.

“With good binoculars, the banding (at least the central band) and three or four of the Galilean satellites (moons) should be visible,” said Adam Kobelski, a research astrophysicist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

“It’s important to remember that Galileo observed these moons with 17th century optics. One of the key needs will be a stable mount for whatever system you use.”

The Galilean satellites are Jupiter’s four largest moons: Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. But Jupiter is believed to have approximately 79 moons rotating around the ginormous “gas planet”.

The ideal viewing location will be at a high elevation in a dark, dry area. Jupiter, other than the moon, should be the brightest object in the sky.

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