Admin and Founder of The Secrets of the Universe and former intern at Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore, I am a science student pursuing Master’s in Physics from India. I love to study and write about Stellar Astrophysics, Relativity& Quantum Mechanics.
The flagship event of June is here: The opposition of Jupiter. June has plenty of astronomical events in its store. There are a lot of conjunctions yet the major event is the opposition of Jupiter. So here are the three important things you need to know about this event.
1. What Is Opposition?
In celestial mechanics, a planetary opposition occurs when the Earth lies between the Sun and the planet with Earth being on the same side of the planet as shown below.
This on June 10, Sun, Earth and Jupiter will lie along a straight line with Earth at the center. This optimal positioning occurs when Jupiter is almost directly opposite the Sun in the sky. Since the Sun reaches its greatest distance below the horizon at midnight, the point opposite to it is highest in the sky at the same time. At around the same time that Jupiter passes opposition, it also makes its closest approach to the Earth – termed its perigee – making it appear at its brightest and largest. However, Jupiter's orbit lies far out in the solar system, at 5.20 AU and hence the angular size of Jupiter doesn't vary over the course of conjunction and opposition.
2. How Close Will Be Jupiter?
At the opposition, Jupiter will be at a distance of about 641 million Km (4.28 AU). This is about 138 million Km closer than the average distance from Earth. Even at its closest approach to the Earth, however, it is not possible to distinguish it as more than a star-like point of light with the naked eye, though a good pair of binoculars is sufficient to reveal it as a disk of light with accompanying system of moons.
3. How To Watch Jupiter?
Opposition marks the middle of the best time of year to see a planet. The beast will rise in the east shortly after Sunset, in the constellation of Ophiuchus. Jupiter will be very bright at mag -2.6 and will be highest in the sky at midnight. With the exception of the sun and moon, only Venus – the brightest planet, now low in the east before sunrise – outshines Jupiter. Try catching both Venus and Jupiter at morning dawn. Venus will be blazing low in the east while Jupiter will sitting low in the west. You’ll need an unobstructed horizon in both directions to see both Venus and Jupiter before sunrise.
At this 2019 opposition, Jupiter shines in the vicinity of Antares, the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius the Scales. There’s no way to mistake Antares for Jupiter, though, because dazzling Jupiter outshines this 1st-magnitude star by nearly thirty times.