UAE: How to get a glimpse of planet Jupiter this weekend

SM Ayaz Zakir and Nandini Sircar/Dubai
Filed on August 18, 2021

The spectacle will be visible to the naked eye between 8pm and 10pm.

If you are a stargazer, be ready to witness a special guest in the UAE that may take you by surprise.

The planet Jupiter will be in opposition to the Earth between 8pm and 10pm on Friday (August 20) and will be visible to the naked eye.

Opposition, an annual phenomenon for observing planets, occurs when the Earth is between the sun and the opposite planet, which makes it aligned. Only planets that are located at the farthest distance in the solar system, including Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, can be in Opposition.

Hasan Al Hariri, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dubai Astronomy Group (DAG), said that observing Jupiter is an experience. “Jupiter in opposition is when it’s at its closest point to Earth while directly opposite to the sun, creating a few hours of perfect alignment between the three bodies (Jupiter, Sun, and Earth) — with us Earthlings in the centre.”

He added: “This relative proximity to Earth means that the planet, already a sight to be seen on other summer nights, will be at its biggest and brightest in the night sky all year.”

Jupiter comes to opposition roughly every 13 months. That’s how long Earth takes to travel once around the sun relative to Jupiter.

As a result, according to our earthly calendars, Jupiter’s opposition comes about a month later each year.

Sarath Raj, Project Director of Amity Dubai Satellite Ground Station & Programme Leader for Aerospace Engineering, Amity University Dubai, said that Jupiter, which takes approximately 12 years to circle the sun, would be in opposition among the stars of eastern Capricornus on August 20.

He added: “When at opposition, Jupiter will rise at sunset and set at sunrise, thus it will be visible all night long. Jupiter will be 600.4 million kilometres (km) from Earth at opposition and will shine at its maximum brightness of magnitude -2.88. Jupiter will be at its perihelion (the point of the Earth's orbit that is nearest to the Sun) in January 2023,”

Residents can observe the spectacle at the Al Thuraya Astronomy Center in Mushrif Park, which is organised by DAG.

The programme comprises a lecture explaining the Opposition of Jupiter, a question-and-answer session, Telescope observation, and astrophotography of the planets with a phone or a camera.

Tickets for the Jupiter Opposition are priced at Dh70 for adults and Dh50 for children under the age of 12. A DAG member has to pay a discounted price of Dh30.

Jupiter’s stripes and swirls atmosphere can also be observed at The View at The Palm, the 360-degree observation deck, in association with the DAG.

Tickets at The View are priced at Dh125 for adults, Dh95 for children aged between four and 12, and those under the age of four can walk in for free.

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