Jupiter Will Be in Opposition Tonight. Here's What That Means—and How to See It

Catch a killer view of the gas giant from your backyard.

Jupiter on Star Field (XXXL)
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  • Jupiter will be in opposition—forming a straight line between the Sun, Earth, and itself—tonight.
  • This event only happens once every 13 months, but Jupiter will remain quite visible the entire month surrounding opposition.
  • Even simple viewing tools like binoculars will suffice as Jupiter will be at its closest proximity to Earth during this event.

    Jupiter will be in opposition tonight, which means that Earth will be directly in between the gas giant and the Sun in the formation of a straight line. This makes for prime viewing opportunities, especially if you have the right gear, considering that Jupiter will be closest to us tonight.

    You can expect to see Jupiter and four of its moons—Io, Europa, Callisto, and Ganymede—at dusk in the northeast, where it will stay until the sun rises tomorrow morning. Opposition will occur at 6 p.m. (EST), but Jupiter will be at its peak (and best for viewing) around .

    This cosmic event only happens once every 13 months, so if you miss out tonight, you'll have to wait over a year for a chance to see Jupiter up close. However, the planet will still be highly visible for most of the month surrounding opposition.

    According to stargazing tips from , Jupiter will be "at its biggest and brightest this month, rising at dusk and remaining visible all night." However, cloudy skies may obstruct your view, so check your local forecast. If you miss this chance, you can still catch images of Jupiter captured by NASA's , which is currently orbiting the massive planet.

    If you have a good telescope, you may even be able to "make out individual cloud bands and Jupiter’s characteristic Great Red Spot," per the .

    Want to see Jupiter in all its glory? Stock up on our favorite stargazing gear.

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