Tags: jupiter | opposition | april | science

Jupiter at Opposition 2017: NASA Captures Brilliant Views

(Screengrab of NASA video)

By    |   Monday, 10 Apr 2017 08:46 AM

Jupiter at opposition, a term used for when Earth passes most closely between the sun and the solar system's largest planet, happened this weekend, giving skygazers one of the best views of the gas giant this year.

During the time of "opposition," Jupiter appears to rise in the sky opposite to where the sun is setting, according to Universe Today. Jupiter rises in the east near sunset and sets in the west around dawn.

The planet assumes opposition every 13 months, which is the time it takes Earth to travel around the sun relative to Jupiter. The next instance will occur May 9, 2018, EarthSky.org reported.

"In 2017, Jupiter comes closest to Earth one day after its opposition date, on April 8, coming to within 414 million miles of Earth," Kel Elkins, a science visualizer with NASA, wrote in a statement.

"If Jupiter and Earth had perfectly circular orbits, closest approach would occur at the same time as opposition. However, since Jupiter and Earth both have elliptical orbits, the closest approach is not aligned with opposition, and varies from year to year," he added.

The Hubble Space Telescope captured a detailed close-up of the giant planet in opposition this time around.

"The proximity of the planet on 3 April allowed a team led by Amy Simon from Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland to capture details in Jupiter’s atmosphere as small as around 80 miles wide," The Independent reported. "Distinct in the photograph is Jupiter’s well known Great Red Spot, an anticyclone, or zone of high pressure, that has been observed for at least 150 years."

Though Jupiter may get a little bit of competition from Venus as the brightest object in the sky during this time, it's not for long, according to EarthSky.org.

"[Jupiter] shines more brightly than any star in the evening sky, and is the second-brightest planet, after Venus," writes Deborah Byrd, editor-in-chief of EarthSky.org. "But Venus only shines for a short while before sunrise at present while Jupiter stays out all night long."

"Before dawn now, you might catch them both: Venus blazing low in the east and Jupiter, a bit fainter but still brighter than any star, shining in the west," she continued.

Universe Today wrote that Jupiter remains one of the most interesting planets in the solar system because it is constantly changing.

"You can see smaller storms come and go as the Great Red Spot make its circuit once every 10 hours," according to UT writer David Dickinson. "Follow Jupiter from sunset through sunrise, and it will rotate just about all the way around once. Strange to think, we've been using modified webcams to image Jupiter for over a decade and a half now."

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Jupiter at opposition, a term used for when Earth passes most closely between the sun and the solar system's largest planet, happened this weekend, giving skygazers one of the best views of the gas giant this year.
jupiter, opposition, april, science
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2017-46-10
Monday, 10 Apr 2017 08:46 AM
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