The beautiful design of the planet will be brought to sharp relief tonight by the way it rises. The orbits of Earth and Jupiter are slightly elliptical, meaning that the distance between the two planets varies.
And the orbits of the two planets are very different - one year on Jupiter, or the time it takes to go around the Sun, takes 12 Earth years.
At its most distant, Jupiter is about 6 million kilometers from Earth. But tonight it will be only 367 million kilometers from us. Jupiter is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun tonight, a condition called opposition,
making the gas giant appear larger and brighter than before. According to Adam Kobelski, an astronomer at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, the band will be visible with good binoculars on several Galilean moons.
"One of the main needs is going to be a stable mount for any system you're using," Kobelski said in a NASA statement. A 4-inch or larger telescope will be able to highlight features on Earth's surface, such as the Great Red Spot.
If you don't have a telescope or good binoculars, Jupiter will still be visible to the naked eye, but you won't be able to see the full details of the planet. Even so, its brightness will be more important than before because of its proximity.
No matter how you choose to view Jupiter, clear weather, high altitude and dark skies will help. Although its closest approach is tonight, Jupiter and its moons will be more visible over the next few nights, according to a NASA statement.
And if you want to see Jupiter in superlative color, you can refer to some recent images from the Webb Space Telescope which captured the planet's auroras in infrared.