The upcoming month is going to be very exciting for anybody who has a keen interest in astronomy or planets, in particular. Next week will mark the one moment in 2019 where Earth and Jupiter will be at their closest point to one another, meaning that Jupiter will be visible in Canada and you won't even need a telescope to see it
That being said, when we say ‘closest point’ to Earth, this doesn’t necessarily mean close by any normal earthly standards. Close in this context actually means 398 million miles, or 641 million km. So not exactly ‘down the road’! However, at their furthest point the planets are an unbelivable 928,081,020 km apart!
Although it can be a little confusing, the reason for their unusual closeness is this; Jupiter and the Earth take different amounts of time to orbit the sun, so while we only take one year to get around , Jupiter’s orbit takes 11.9 ‘Earth’ years.
On February 18, 2017 Jupiter passed ‘aphelion’, which means it was at its farthest point in its orbit from the sun. Jupiter will not reach its ‘perihelion’, the closest point to the sun, until January 25, 2023. This means that Jupiter is getting closer to the sun each day.
While Jupiter is getting closer to the sun, the Earth is gradually moving away from the sun, and this is how they will pass. So on June 12, Jupiter and Earth will meet at their closest point of the year, as each planet moves around the sun, one closer and one further away.
The result of this meeting is that people across Canada should be able to see the largest planet in our solar system and even some of its moons from the comfort of their own homes. According to CTV News, the gas giant should be visible everywhere, even for those living in built up cities where city lights can often obstruct views of stars and planets.
The meeting of the planets will be best seen using a pair of binoculars. The better the equipment, of course, the stronger the view will be, however a basic pair of viewing binoculars should still be able to pick up several of Jupiter’s moons.
Should you be lucky enough to own any kind of telescope, it will be possible to make out Jupiter’s banded clouds. If this wasn’t cool enough, the planet’s giant red spot will also be visible for anybody who owns a more powerful telescope.
To get an idea of what the giant planet looks like, NASA currently has a spacecraft orbiting Jupiter, and the photographs of the planet are just incredible...
So whatever your plans were for June 12, cancel them! Borrow some binoculars and find a window with no finger smudges because this is going to be awesome!