Dubai: As Jupiter made its closest approach to Earth in 59 years tonight, Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, took to Instagram to share a video of the Burj Khalifa, with the planet visible in the background.
Capturing the world's tallest tower and the largest planet in our solar system in the same frame, he captioned the video: "Burj Khalifa meets the king of planets! The planets closest approach to Earth in 59 years. Opposition #Dubai #Jupiter."
Sheikh Hamdan, who has 14.7 million followers on Instagram, often shares videos and photographs of celestial events such as the solar eclipse and the supermoon from Dubai.
Jupiter's closest approach to Earth
Also known as gas giant, Jupiter is the closest it has come to Earth since 1963. This happens because the Earth and Jupiter do not orbit the Sun in perfect circles – meaning the planets pass each other at different distances throughout the year.
At its closest approach, Jupiter will be approximately 367 million miles in distance from Earth, about the same distance it was in 1963. The massive planet is approximately 600 million miles away from Earth at its farthest point.
But, that's not all. This year’s views will be extraordinary because it coincides with another event called opposition.
When in opposition, a planet is on the opposite side of Earth from the Sun. Imagine a straight line drawn connecting the Sun to Earth to Jupiter. During opposition, planets appear at their biggest and brightest.
According to Nasa (National Aeronautics and Space Administration): "From the viewpoint of Earth’s surface, opposition happens when an astronomical object rises in the east as the Sun sets in the west, placing the object and the Sun on opposite sides of Earth."
Jupiter's opposition happens every 13 months, making the planet appear larger and brighter than any other time of the year.
According to Adam Kobelski, a research astrophysicist at Nasa’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama: “With good binoculars, the banding (at least the central band) and three or four of the Galilean satellites (moons) should be visible."
Don't worry if you missed seeing Jupiter tonight, it will be visible for the coming few days. “The views should be great for a few days before and after Sept. 26,” Kobelski said. “.... Outside of the Moon, it should be one of the (if not the) brightest objects in the night sky.”