#astronomy The 12-12 months Cycle of Jupiter Oppositions – Sky & Telescope

August 21, 2021 - Comment

Jupiter can be at opposition on August 19th among the many dim stars of the constellation Aquarius. When at opposition Jupiter seems straight reverse the Solar as seen by us on Earth — which implies it’ll be at its greatest and brightest of the 12 months. (Saturn got here to opposition on August 2nd.) At


Jupiter can be at opposition on August 19th among the many dim stars of the constellation Aquarius. When at opposition Jupiter seems straight reverse the Solar as seen by us on Earth — which implies it’ll be at its greatest and brightest of the 12 months. (Saturn got here to opposition on August 2nd.)

Jupiter opposition diagramAt opposition, Jupiter and the Earth line up on the identical facet of the Solar.
Bob King

At instances like these, it’s attention-grabbing to consider what’s really taking place. In any case, every part in house is shifting on a regular basis, so there’s extra occurring than Jupiter crossing an invisible end line. Jupiter is on common 5 instances farther from the Solar than Earth, and it takes for much longer to finish an orbit than our planet does, 12 years to our 1 12 months. So, one other approach to think about opposition is that Earth is catching up with and rushing previous Jupiter, like runners on an unlimited race monitor. Put one other approach, we attain opposition with Jupiter as we go it by.

Since Jupiter strikes by means of 1/12 of its orbit per 12 months, it takes a 12 months, plus time for the 1/12 of an orbit Jupiter has moved, for us to catch again up with it. This implies we attain opposition with Jupiter about each 13 months.

On August 20, 2021, Jupiter is at opposition simply off the limb of Capricornus (which places it inside the boundaries of the Aquarius constellation.)

This sample offers us an opportunity to make use of Jupiter as our information for a 12-year observing undertaking. I do know this sounds a little bit absurd however all it’s worthwhile to do is bear in mind to search for. Let’s begin this week.

Jupiter is vibrant and straightforward to search out, besides when it is close to conjunction and is both too near the Solar to see or is hard to identify by means of the intense daylight. So, let’s control it as a lot as we are able to. Because the leaves change and fall, because the snow piles up, melts, and the leaves come again, let’s watch Jupiter. As neighborhood youngsters chortle at some point and study to drive the subsequent, and as a little bit extra grey creeps onto our heads, we are able to watch every time we now have an opportunity. The place is Jupiter? What stars are close by? What deep sky objects?

By the Zodiac

These are the subsequent 12 oppositions and the constellations Jupiter can be in for each:

August 20, 2021: AquariusSeptember 26, 2022: PiscesNovember 1, 2023: AriesDecember 6, 2024: TaurusJanuary 9, 2026: GeminiFebruary 10, 2027: LeoMarch 13, 2028: VirgoApril 13, 2029: VirgoMay 14, 2030: LibraJune 16, 2031: OphiuchusJuly 20, 2032: SagittariusAugust 25, 2033: Again in Aquarius

As time goes on, we are able to see and picture Jupiter’s moons and striped clouds sweeping by means of the celebrities. Because the 12 months goes on, our view of the photo voltaic system — and on the galaxy — modifications, pointing in several instructions, in the identical approach that we see Orion and Auriga in winter, and Aquila and Delphinus in summer season.

When Jupiter comes again to Aquarius in August of 2033, we’ll have watched it by means of a whole one among its years. Are you able to think about the place we’ll be then? Who will win these World Collection? What illnesses will we treatment? Will crews make it to Mars? Will we lastly get these flying vehicles?

Throughout all that point, we’ll have seen Jupiter transfer eastward among the many background stars of all the zodiac constellations, by about one constellation per opposition. (You’ll discover in Most cancers, Scorpius and Capricornus are lacking from the checklist. Jupiter crosses them, however not close to an opposition. Additionally, Virgo is the most important zodiac constellation, so it takes longer to cross.)

If we now have extra time, we are able to strive the identical factor with Saturn. It takes about 29 years to take the identical path by means of the celebrities. Every opposition is separated by a 12 months plus about two weeks. Watching Uranus by means of its 81-year orbit can be exceptional, a lifetime of sky-watching.

To do the identical with Neptune (165 years), Pluto (238 years), or extra distant objects, we’d want some assist from an immortality potion. However simply think about the place humanity can be in that distant future if we have been to begin watching right this moment.

It looks as if an unlimited dedication, however let’s give this a strive. I hope you’ll add Jupiter to your checklist and begin this week!

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