It won’t happen again for another 107 years
NASA said the biggest planet in our solar system was going to pass (relatively) near to Earth this week – meaning people can see it with the naked eye.
We will be able to see it until Thu 29th at 06:46am
This is happening because Jupiter is rising in the east as the sun sets in the west, putting them in opposite sides of the earth.
As the sun set around 6.50pm Monday around the UK, we were able to see Jupiter if you’re facing the eastern horizon at sunset. According to experts, all you need to do is find a nice stargazing spot – somewhere that’s high, dark and dry – to be able to see the planet, which will appear as a white dot.
Jupiter will be the brightest object in the sky other than the moon. Those using a good telescope will also be able to witness three or four of Jupiter’s moons.
And it’s now or never, by the sound of things. The next time this is likely to occur is in around 107 years, when most of us won’t be around. The last time it took place was in 1963.
Currently Jupiter is heading for its perihelion - the point in its orbit when it will be at its closest to the sun and we are travelling between the two of them. When this happens, it's called 'opposition' and it means a planet is opposite the sun. Only the planet's outside Earth's orbit - Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune - can be in opposition.
Why is it a rare event?
Jupiter's opposition (which occurs every 13 months) doesn't always coincide with its closest approach to Earth. But in 2022, Jupiter’s opposition to the sun and closest approach to Earth fall on the same day. Something so rare, that it won't occur again until 2129.
If you want to know which planets you can see this week, this website is pretty useful, it shows what you can see in London, but it is the same in Cambridge.