Such an event occurs every 13 months

Jupiter, the largest celestial body in the solar system after the Sun, will be at its biggest and brightest on Monday night.

The gas giant, which has a system of rings, is at its closest approach, according to N. Sri Raghunandan Kumar of the Planetary Society of India. It will be visible to the naked eye an hour after sunset in the eastern direction. It will be observable all through the night and can be spotted on Tuesday midnight in the southern direction at a higher elevation.

According to Mr. Kumar, Jupiter, which has a large number of natural satellites, will be in ‘opposition’ on Monday night. “A planet is said to be in opposition when it is directly opposite to the Sun from our [vantage] view from earth,” he said.

At its opposition, the planet is fully illuminated by the Sun and appears disc-like, Mr. Kumar said.

Jupiter’s opposition occurs every 13 months. It happened on October 29, 2011 and the next will be January 6, 2014.

Jupiter’s perigee (minimum orbital distance) from earth is approximately 588 million km and its apogee is about 967 million km. On Monday, the planet will be at 608 million km.

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