Largest Planet Will Be Closest to Earth in Last 59 Years Tonight
A clear sky is expected across eastern Iowa tonight, providing the opportunity to see the world's largest planet more clearly than anyone has on earth since the early 1960s.
A truly giant planet will be more visible around the world tonight. All the other planets combined are still just a blip on the radar, if you will, compared to this behemoth planet that the world will get a closer look at tonight.
According to Sky and Telescope, "Jupiter is 2 1/2 times more massive than the rest of the planets in the solar system combined... (Its) mass is more than 300 times that of Earth, and its diameter is about 11 times" that of Earth. Remarkable.
Tonight, NASA reports 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."
Now I realize 367 million miles is still an incomprehensible distance, but NASA research astrophysicist Adam Kobelsi says that if you have a stable mount and good binoculars tonight, "the banding (at least the central band) and three or four of the Galilean satellites (moons) should be visible... Outside of the Moon, it should be one of the (if not the) brightest objects in the night sky."
If you can't step outside to catch the view tonight, NASA says it still should be visible the next few nights, as well. Our weather partner, KCRG TV-9, says the weather should cooperate. Skies are expected to be clear both tonight and Tuesday night, with low temperatures in the upper 30s to lower 40s.