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Jupiter at opposition on 9th July 2008

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On 9th July 2008, at 9:00 UT, planet Jupiter will situate at opposition as seen from the Earth. So, the days around this moment, Jupiter will rise approximately at the sunset and will set almost at the same time the Sun will rise.

En aquesta visió de Júpiter destaquen les característiques franges de colors marrons clars i foscos de la seva atmosfera. Així mateix, apareix en la imatge el satčl·lit Europa, l'ombra del qual sobre Júpiter s'aprecia perfectament com una taca ben negra una mica per sota de l'equador de gegant gasós.Cassini Spacecraft Approaches Jupiter (October 2000)
Credits: Cassini Imaging Team, Cassini Project, NASA

It is an excellent opportunity to observer Jupiter, which will be brighter than any star on the sky: apparent magnitude of -2.7.

Jupiter offers an spectacular sight when observed with amateur equipment. Not only the planet is seen, but also some of its satellites, especially the so-called galilean satellites: Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, and even some features of its atmosphere.

Júpiter es trobarŕ situat a la constel·lació de SagitariSituation of Jupiter at the moment of opposition
(Image obtained by ServiAstro members with the Guide 7 software)

Planetary oppositions

We call opposition to the position where a superior planet (those which are further from the Sun than the Earth: Mars, Jupiter, Saturn,...) is when it is exactly at 180 degrees of ecliptical longitude, measuring from the Sun; that is, when it is on the plane perpendicular to the ecliptic (plane of the terrestrial orbit around the Sun) which contains the centres of the Sun and the Earth. It wouldn't be correct to speak about the line which join the centres of the Earth and the Sun instead of this plane because the orbits of planets are not exactly on the same plane (check the second diagram).

Diagrama d'una oposició, vista per sobre del pla de l'eclíptica
Diagram of an opposition, as seen from above the ecliptical plane.
Courtesy: French Wiquipedia

Only the superior planets can be situated at opposition. Inferior planets (those closer to the Sun than the Earth: Mercury and Venus) can also be situated at remarkable positions, called upper and inferior conjunctions and greatest elongations , as is explained in the article published on Serviastro for the greatest elongation of Venus on 29th March 2004.

Diagrama d'una ňrbita planetŕria, comparada amb la prňpia eclíptica
Diagram of a planetary orbit compared whit the ecliptic.
Courtesy: Asociación Larense de Astronomía

Next oppositions:

  • 2009-03-08: Saturn at opposition
  • 2009-08-14: Jupiter at opposition

Past oppositions

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