When can you see Jupiter from the UK tonight?

Find out when and how to see Jupiter in tonight's sky

Jupiter in the night sky
(Image credit: Getty Images)

People all over the world are asking when can you see Jupiter tonight, as the planet is due to pass the closest it has been to Earth since 1963.

September 2022 has already seen Mercury in retrograde (opens in new tab), but there's more planetary excitement on the way because astronomers are saying that Monday 26 September offers the best chance to see Jupiter for the next 100 years.

Whether you're an amateur stargazer yourself who's always asking when is the next full moon (opens in new tab), or more into astrology and sun and moon signs (opens in new tab), this is a once in a lifetime event you'll not want to miss.

When can you see Jupiter from the UK?

Jupiter will be visible on the evening on Monday 26 September from sunset, and eager stargazers will be able to see the biggest planet in our solar system at its closest to earth in 59 years.

Although Jupiter has been visible in the night sky in the days leading up to 26 September - and will still be visible for several days afterwards - this is the date when it will appear brightest and most visible to the naked eye.

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What time will Jupiter be visible tonight?

Jupiter will be visible in the UK from sunset, which is due to happen at 6.50pm on Monday 26 September. Those hoping to catch a glimpse of the planet should look towards the eastern horizon around this time. 

The Met Office (opens in new tab) says the weather tonight will be "Some clear spells for most places, but showers continuing in areas exposed to the northwest, some running inland from Cheshire across the Midlands. Heavier showers affecting northern Scotland. Chilly and breezy." So, you'll want to wrap up if you're planning on heading out stargazing.

If it's too cloudy to spot tonight, don't worry - you'll still be able to see Jupiter for a few days after, it just won't be quite as bright.

How to see Jupiter from Earth

Because Jupiter will be so close to Earth on 26 September, you shouldn't need any equipment to be able to see it.

Research astrophysicist at NASA (opens in new tab)’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Adam Kobelski (opens in new tab), said: "Outside of the Moon, it should be one of the (if not the) brightest objects in the night sky."

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However, those with access to telescope or even binoculars will be able to catch a more striking view of the huge planet. Kobelski added, "With good binoculars, the banding (at least the central band) and three or four of the Galilean satellites (moons) should be visible."

He said that those who want to take an even closer look should consider a telescope of at least 4 inches or larger and possibly green and blue filters, to enhance the visibility of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot and the banding of the planet’s cloud layers.

Why is Jupiter visible from Earth tonight?

Jupiter will be in opposition tonight - meaning it will rise in the eastern sky as the Sun sets in the west. This makes the planet especially visible, with the added advantage that it will be Jupiter's closest approach to Earth since 1963.

Earth and Jupiter follow elliptical, rather than circular orbits, and the distance at which they pass each other varies over time. On Monday 26 September, Jupiter will be within 367 million miles of Earth, compared to the 600 million miles that separate the two planets at their furthest apart.

Jupiter is in opposition with Earth every 13 months, but passing so close while in opposition is rare, and is not predicted to happen again until 2129.

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