The answer to the question “How far is Jupiter from Earth” can have a different answer every day of the year. The planets are both moving in their elliptical orbits, coming closer and then further apart. At their closest points, Jupiter and Earth are 588 million km / 365 million mi away from each other. At their farthest points, Jupiter and Earth are 968 million km / 601 million mi. In astronomical units, the distance varies between 4.2 AU and 6.2 AU.
All planets follow an elliptical orbit. When the planet is closest to the sun, it is called perihelion. When it’s furthest, it’s called an aphelion. The difference between perihelion and aphelion determines how eccentric an orbit is. Jupiter and Earth have two of the least eccentric orbits in our solar system.
Earth and Jupiter are closest when Earth is at aphelion and Jupiter is at perihelion. They are most distant when they are on opposite sides of the Sun and both are at aphelion.
Jupiter is often the third brightest object in the night sky after the Moon and Venus. When Earth and Jupiter come closest together, only the Moon can outshine the planet. Jupiter is so massive that it creates many effects throughout the solar system. Some scientists believe that Jupiter’s tidal effects as it reaches perihelion could cause sunspot frequencies to increase. It’s easy to understand how Jupiter was able to create tidal effects considering it is 318 times more massive than Earth.
Despite its size, Jupiter rotates faster than any other planet in our solar system. The speed of its rotation has flattened it out more than some other planets. On Jupiter, the poles are 4,600 km closer to the center of the planet than the equator.
Jupiter’s mass and other aspects allow it to have a strong gravitational pull. This strong gravity has allowed the planet to capture many satellites. Jupiter is currently recognized as having 50 moons and 14 provisional moons. Many of these are said to have been asteroids captured when they came too close to Jupiter’s influence.
How long would it take to get from Earth to Jupiter?
So, how long does it take to get to Jupiter? Around 600 days if you want to just do a flyby and aren’t planning to stick around, or about 2,000 days if you want to actually get into orbit.
As all planets move, the time it takes to reach them varies. On average, it would take about six years to reach Jupiter from Earth.
For example, the Galileo spacecraft, launched in 1989, reached the gas giant in 1995 but passed because it had a very strategic route in mind. The spacecraft orbited Venus, Earth and the asteroid Gaspra to reach Jupiter. The vehicle traveled a total of around 2.5 billion miles / 4 billion kilometers.
The short answer is two to six years, depending on the route followed and the speed.
Until now, we have been focused on understanding how Jupiter’s and Earth’s orbits work. In order to get to Jupiter, considering the speed of our spaceship and the route it takes is also very important. Let’s take a look at past missions to see how long they took:
|Mission||Launch Date||Travel Time (in days)|
|Pioneer 10||March 03, 1972||640|
|Pioneer 11||April 05, 1973||606|
|Voyager 1||September 05, 1977||546|
|Voyager 2||August 20, 1977||688|
|Galileo||October 18, 1989||2,242|
|Juno||August 05, 2011||1,795|
Read More: How many Jupiter can Fit in the Sun?
How many light years does it take to get from Earth to Jupiter?
We see a planet like Jupiter because its light—which like the other planets and the Moon originates on the Sun—takes about 43 minutes to reach Jupiter. The return trip to the Earth can take from 35 to 52 minutes, depending on whether we are on the same side of the Sun as Jupiter or on the other side.
Shortest = 365 million miles (587 million km) = 1,962 seconds = 32 minutes and 07 seconds.
Average = 385 million miles (611 million km) = 2,070 seconds = 34 minutes and 05 seconds.
Furthest = 601 million miles (961 million km) = 3,231 seconds = 54 minutes and 25 seconds.
At its average distance of 385 million miles, light takes 32 minutes and 07 seconds to reach Earth from Jupiter. As the planets orbit the Sun, this time varies between 32 minutes 07 seconds, and 54 minutes 25 seconds.
In light-years, the Sun is 0.00001581 light-years from Earth, and as such it would take eight light-minutes to reach it. The speed of sound is around 343 m/s while the speed of light is 299,792,458 m/s. In miles per hour/mph the speed of light is approximately 670,616,629 while in kilometers per hour light travels at 1,079,252,848.