For anyone fascinated by things in the sky, there’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience happening right now — and you’re not going to want to miss it. It’s not a star, not a meteor — it’s something more extraordinary: Jupiter. Here’s what you need to know, including when to mark your calendar.
What is going on with Jupiter in September?
It’s not unusual to see other planets in the sky at night. But often, when we see them, it’s by telescope. However, this month we’re getting a unique, rare treat. Jupiter will be closer to Earth than it has been in more than 70 years, according to EarthSky.org.
This month, Jupiter will rise in the Eastern sky after sunset and be visible through the night until just before the sun rises. And since it’s so close to Earth, we’ll be able to see it a whole lot better.
Jupiter is said to be in “opposition,” which happens when Earth is located between Jupiter and the Sun. When a planet is in opposition to Earth, it makes it seem larger than life.
EarthSky says this happens because the entire disc of the planet is illuminated, the Earth is as close to it as it will ever be, and the planet is visible for longer since it rises at sunset and sets at sunrise. This creates the perfect environment for the best Jupiter look we’ve seen in 70 years.
How can you see Jupiter in September?
To get a glimpse at Jupiter, you’ll be able to see it after sunset for all of September.
“Look to the eastern sky about two hours after sunset over the next few weeks, and you easily see bright Jupiter rising in the eastern sky,” Forbes explains.
When is the best time to look at Jupiter in September?
While the planet will be visible the whole month, according to EarthSky, Sept. 26 is the ideal day to check if you’re short on time.
Jupiter will be the closest to Earth on Sept. 26 when it will be “367 million miles or 591 million km or 33 light minutes from Earth,” so that’s a good date to mark in your calendars.
To check the best time to view Jupiter from where you live, check out TimeandDate.
The next time we’ll have another incredible planetary sky show is December 8, 2022, when Mars is in opposition.