BANGKOK — View Jupiter at its brightest this year on Tuesday evening when the planet is in opposition.
On the evening of July 14, budding astronomers will be able to look to the skies to see Jupiter when it’s closest to Earth all year – or 619 million kilometers, Suparerk Karuehanon, academic head at the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand, said.
Suparerk said that as soon as the sun sets over the horizon, Jupiter should appear in the southeastern skies until dawn. The planet should be visible with the naked eye nationwide, barring bad weather.
Armed with a small telescope, one can even see Jupiter’s Galilean Moons, or the four largest moons: Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. Astronomers with more powerful telescopes may even be able to spot Jupiter’s Great Red Spot from 10pm to 1am.
Jupiter will be seen in close proximity to Saturn. From mid-2020 until the end of the year, the two planets will move closer and closer until coming into Great Conjunction on December 20 to 23 – the closest the two planets will ever have been in 397 years.
Saturn will come into opposition on July 21.
Telescopes will be available for use for free from 6pm to 10pm on Tuesday at the Princess Sirindhorn AstroPark in Chiang Mai, and the regional observatories in Nakhon Ratchasima, Chachoengsao, and Songkhla.
An apt soundtrack for viewing Jupiter may be Gustav Holst’s “Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity” (1914), a grand, majestic display of brass in tribute to the Roman sky god.