Just three days after the autumn equinox, exactly on September 26, 2022, the great ball of gas that is Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, will come extraordinarily close to Earth and its face will be completely illuminated by the Sun. That is to say, that two favorable circumstances will be given for its observation simultaneously: it will make its closest approach to Earth in the last 59 years and will reach the opposition (It will be at a point opposite the Sun from our perspective, a phenomenon that occurs every 13 months).
To give us an idea of its proximity, at its furthest point, Jupiter is 965 million kilometers away, but this Monday, September 26, it will be only about 590 million km. This will allow you to contemplate it with simple binoculars, to the point that you could distinguish some of its characteristic bands of clouds and also its largest moons: Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto.
Both its largest moons and its characteristic cloud bands can be seen with binoculars.
However, with a medium telescope you could even distinguish the famous Great Red Spot, which is actually a storm whose size exceeds that of our own planet and whose existence has been known since the year 1645.
In this way, Jupiter will become the second brightest object in the sky, after the Moon. For the best possible observation, it is recommended to be at a high elevation and in a dark area with no light pollution. It is not necessary to carry out the observation on the same Monday, but also a few days before or after. However, it must be taken into account that the probability of clouds is high because, as of Thursday, an Atlantic storm is approaching towards the Iberian Peninsula.
Jupiter is the largest celestial body in the solar system, with a mass 318 times that of Earth and 3 times that of Saturn. However, Jupiter is not a planet like ours, but a ball of gas made up mainly of hydrogen and helium. However, in its bowels it has a dense rocky core about 20 times more solid than the Earth.
The planet is also buffeted by winds of about 370 km/h, with gusts of up to 650 km/h. In the external atmosphere, average temperatures are around 152 ºC. And around it 79 moons orbit, although more precise observations suggest that it could have at least 600 irregular moons of more than a kilometer in diameter. The first observations of the moons of Jupiter, in fact, are attributed to Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), who, armed with a handmade telescope, managed to discover that it was the Sun (and not the Earth) that was at the center of the universe. and that the planets and stars revolved around him.