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Jupiter to reach opposition, make closest approach to Earth in decades — when to see it

This image was acquired on Sept. 12, 2010, when Jupiter was close to opposition. South is up and the "Great Red Spot" is visible.

Two of Jupiter's moons, Io and Ganymede, can also be seen in this image. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/Universal Just after the fall equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, it will be a prime viewing time for sky watchers seeking a special glimpse of Jupiter, which will soon make its closest approach in nearly 60 years.There will be great views of Jupiter throughout the night of Monday, Sept. 26, when the largest planet in our solar system reaches opposition, according to NASA.

Opposition is when Earth passes directly between the sun and an outer planet — in this case, Jupiter — placing the giant planet and the sun on opposite sides of Earth.Jupiter’s opposition happens every 13 months, which makes the planet appear larger and brighter than at any other time of the year, NASA says. What makes this period of opposition even more special is that Jupiter will also make its closest approach to Earth in the last 59 years — two things that rarely coincide.The planets in our solar system do not orbit the sun in perfect circles. Instead, they orbit in more of an ellipse or "flattened" circle shape.

This means Earth and Jupiter pass each other at different points throughout the year. FILE - A display of the summer Milky Way. Seen in this photograph is the spiral arm of our galaxy; stars of the constellation Libra, constellation Scorpius, Planet Jupiter (Bright Spot at the Center) & Majestic Saturn at 8 o'clock of Jupiter. Thi Jupiter will be approximately 367 million miles in distance from Earth at its closest approach.

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