You might see Jupiter tonight as it comes closest it's been to Earth in 60 years

By Fiona Frawley

September 26, 2022 at 5:17pm


Catch Drops of Jupiter in your hair tonight, just as Train intended.

A "once in a life time astronomical event" occurs tonight, as Jupiter will be the closest it's been to Earth since 1963.

The planet should be at its biggest and brightest tonight, giving opportunist stargazers a fair chance to catch a glimpse.

NASA have reported that "a good pair of binoculars" will be all you need to catch details of Jupiter, while a larger telescope will be required to see the Great Red Spot.

"Jupiter's closest approach to Earth rarely coincides with opposition," NASA said, "which means this year's views will be extraordinary."


Opposition occurs 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. Jupiter's opposition happens every 13 months, but this year it will coincide with the planet making its closest approach to Earth since 1963.

At its closest point tonight, Jupiter will be about 367 million miles from Earth, about 200 million miles closer than when it's at its farthest point.

The sun is expected to set at about 7:15pm in Ireland tonight - people will be able to see Jupiter from then onwards. Met Éireann have forecast a dry night with clear spells in most areas, with some isolated showers in the northeast of the country.

Speaking to The Journal, David Moore of Astronomy Ireland said:


It takes Jupiter 12 years to go around the sun. We catch up with it every 13 months, so if you like, the sun, Earth and Jupiter will be in a straight line and that’s when we’re closest. 

It’s actually the brightest planet in the sky, and because of opposition, when you’ve got the sun, Earth and Jupiter lining up, that means that Jupiter is visible all night. As soon as the sun sets, Jupiter rises by definition. It’s at its highest at midnight and then it sets just as the sun is rising, so it’s visible all night long.

Header image via Shutterstock 

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