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You've probably noticed a star rising in the east at about sunset and standing overhead at midnight, a blazing beacon brighter than any other star. Well, it's not a star at all; it's Jupiter. The golden disk hovering in the black of space to Jupiter's right is the moon Io, and even in the smallest telescope or binocular you can see four moons aligned in a row near their parent, the Galilean moons. In order: Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto - only Io is close enough to see in this photo:

Click the image to see the story about Jupiter's close approach.

Jupiter: god of the planets, banded by atmospheric streamers whipping the cloud-tops at hundreds of miles per hour in opposite directions, resulting in amazing storms - including the famous Great Red Spot and now the Little Red Spot as seen in this photo:

Click the image to see the story about the Little Red Spot.

We'll not be as close to this mighty planet until 2022, so get out there and look for it! If it stops storming sometime over the next few days, I'm thinking of doing an astronomy camp-out and spending some quality time with my favorite planet.




( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 16th, 2010 02:21 am (UTC)
So. Cool. I'm going to go outside and search the sky. I probably won't be able to distinguish it from anything else, but I can imagine it and pretend.
Sep. 16th, 2010 02:24 am (UTC)
Wait until after 10pm, unless you live somewhere with a clear horizon. Me, I can't see Jupiter from my yard until at least 11pm.

You won't mistake it for anything else!
Sep. 16th, 2010 02:37 am (UTC)
I'm on the east coast, so it's 10:30 here. Can you point me in a direction?
Sep. 16th, 2010 04:23 am (UTC)
By now, it's directly overhead! But it rises in the east (opposite the sun) at sunset.
Sep. 16th, 2010 01:14 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Chris! I think I saw it last night. (I didn't get this until this morning.) Is that it? Or will it be back tonight?
Sep. 16th, 2010 05:19 pm (UTC)
Oh, it'll keep getting brighter (and closer) for the next few days, then remain the brightest "star" (besides the Sun) in the sky for a long time to come.
Sep. 16th, 2010 05:20 pm (UTC)
Oh, goody! By the time it goes away, I'll have seen it enough times to KNOW that's what I'm looking at. THANKS!
Sep. 16th, 2010 04:28 am (UTC)
I'll look for a clear night. Thanks.
- E
Sep. 16th, 2010 05:19 pm (UTC)
It'll remain the brightest "star" (besides the Sun) in the sky for a long time to come, so even in your neck of the woods, you're good ;-)
Sep. 16th, 2010 08:33 am (UTC)
Had a good long look at it last night. Couldn't make out much details - our bins are rubbish - but was left walking away thinking 'That's a planet?'
Sep. 16th, 2010 05:22 pm (UTC)
Neat! Did you notice the Galilean moons? They look roughly like this in a binocular:

Click the image to see an amateur astronomer's photos.

Sep. 16th, 2010 05:25 pm (UTC)
As I say, our current binoculars are crap. Had I seen the moons I shouldn't have walked back in the house I should have floated!
Sep. 16th, 2010 06:07 pm (UTC)
Well, perhaps it's time to upgrade to a nicer pair ;-)

In any size telescope, it's pretty impressive. A few days ago, I helped a friend set up his new (used) 90mm reflector, and we watched Jupiter for at least an hour. If you watched long enough, you could see stormy bands even in that small an instrument!
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )