Jupiter is so close that we can see its moons with binoculars. NASA still has a surprise in store for us.

Jupiter is so close that we can see its moons with binoculars.  NASA still has a surprise in store for us.

this time Thursday It’s at opposition, which means that where the skies allow, we have the best chance of seeing our solar system’s largest planet with the naked eye. Equipped with powerful binoculars, we can even see some of its moons. No matter how powerful our instruments are, we cannot see the Juno probe passing through one of them. Europe.


In opposition.
The phenomenon of Jupiter or any other planet in the outer region of our solar system In opposition Occurs when the Earth crosses the line between the Sun and the planet, so that the latter opposes the Sun.

This lineup This implies two things. The first would be the time of year when the planet is closest to us. Second, it will be at our “night,” completely reflecting sunlight, i.e., the ideal condition for viewing a celestial body that is not self-illuminating.

Since 1963.
But when the outer planets of our solar system encounter opposition once a year (depending on the relative speed at which each planet orbits), this approach to Jupiter It will be special.

Because the planets’ orbits are not perfectly spherical (far from it), the phases can vary from time to time. So this year Jupiter is the closest approach between the two planets Since 1963.

A look at Jupiter’s moons.
Few of the Jovian moons can be seen these days with a telescope or with sufficiently powerful binoculars. They can be seen on a line crossing Jupiter. The four Galilean moons (Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto) will appear in theoryWhether we can see them depends on our instruments and the moment of transit around the planet they are located on.

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Juno’s Pass
Europe Perhaps today’s main character will be this. Because the The Juno mission The Jovian moon will pass this week. Specially On September 29, at 11:36 p.m In the morning Peninsular Time (CET), the NASA spacecraft will approach at a distance of 358 km. This is the closest approximation from The Galileo mission (It reached 351 km).

Juno, already in her “extended life” After completing its main mission in 2018, it will continue to orbit Jupiter and analyze the system being built with satellites. As it passes Europa, it will take high-resolution images of the moon’s surface and gather information about it, from its interior to its ionosphere.

Europe is one of them Sea worlds (Similarly Enceladus Y Titan) in it The highest expectations lie About finding extraterrestrials. This phase will lay the groundwork for a future mission to this moon: Europa Clipper.

A few events to remember.
Looking back at the sky, some upcoming astronomical events are also related to the visibility of the planets. For example, on October 8, Mercury will be at its point Maximum eastern length. Because the inner planets of the Solar System cannot be placed in opposition to the Sun, the best chance to see them is at their point of maximum elongation.

Two meteor showers will also be visible in the coming weeks: Draconids (which will reach its peak on October 7) and Orionids (between October 21 and 22). The latter is due to our passing near the path of Halley’s Comet.

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Finally on October 25th A solar eclipse It is only partially visible from the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula. The greatest visibility of the eclipse will be within the Eurasian continent and over Russia and Kazakhstan, although it will be (almost) partially visible from Europe.

Image | NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

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