Monday, September 20, 2010

Jupiter on View

Are you a stargazer? Mother Nature treats us to a rare sight tonight: Jupiter will be the closest to Earth in over 50 years. You should be able to see Jupiter's four largest moons even with binoculars, if you don't have a telescope. National Geographic reports on the event like this:

"'Oppositions of the Earth and Jupiter occur roughly every 400 days, due to Earth catching up to Jupiter and lapping it in its race around the sun,' said Raminder Singh Samra, resident astronomer at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia.

'But because the orbits of the planets are slightly elliptical, the distances between oppositions vary, and so the next time [Earth and Jupiter] are this close won't be until 2022.'

For the rest of September, Jupiter will be the brightest object in the sky, aside from the moon. The planet will be visible all night long, rising in the east at sunset and setting in the west around sunrise.

On September 22 the full moon will park itself just above Jupiter, making for a striking cosmic duo to the unaided eye. The following night the moon will sit just to Jupiter's left."

If you don't jump at the chance now, the next opportunity to see the 'live' Jupiter this close will be in 2022. For a 'dead' Jupiter, you can check our collection on the solar system.

No comments: