Jupiter by NASA
A space image of the gas giant Jupiter Image Credit: NASA

Dubai: If you’re wondering what to do this weekend, hoping for something special, consider your wish granted. This Friday, by mid-evening, you can treat yourself to a spectacular show in the skies: Jupiter will appear bigger and brighter by mid-evening as the biggest planet will be in opposition to the sun. The Earth will move between the sun and Jupiter, and Jupiter will appear opposite the sun in the sky. The result: Jupiter will seem like a blazing light, rising in the east.

A once-in-13 months phenomenon, Jupiter reaching opposition is a visual delight. When it lies opposite to the Sun in the sky, lying in the constellation Capricornus, it will be visible for much of the night. At around the same time that it passes opposition, it also makes its closest contact to the Earth. Called perigee, this will make Jupiter appear at its brightest and biggest.

What does Jupiter reaching opposition mean?

This means the solar system is lined up with Jupiter and the Earth on the same side of the Sun.

Dubai Astronomy Group CEO, Hasan Al Hariri said that “Jupiter in opposition is when Jupiter is at its closest point to Earth while directly opposite the Sun, creating a few hours of perfect alignment between the three bodies (Jupiter, Sun and Earth)— with us Earthlings in the center. This relative proximity to Earth means that the planet, already a sight to be seen on other summer nights, will be at its biggest and brightest in the night sky all year.

Jupiter comes to opposition every 13 months, the time that it takes for the Earth to travel once around the sun relative to Jupiter. Tomorrow, with Jupiter being directly opposite the sun, the gas giant, the Earth and the Sun will all be aligned.

Best way to view Jupiter

The gas rings and black spot of Jupiter can be vbest viewed through hi-tech telescopes.

Dubai Astronomy Group is also organising a special event at the Al Thuraya Astronomy Centre, Mushrif Park, Dubai, to observe the phenomenon. Alongside the viewing, there will be a lecture what Opposition of Jupiter means, an interactive session with experts and an astrophotography opportunity of Jupiter using a phone.