Best View of Jupiter in years
Stargazers to get best view of Jupiter in years as largest planet in solar system moves into prime position
- Planet should be easily visible in the night sky from March 1
- It should be possible to view its four major moons using just binoculars
- It will be 435 million miles away and at highest point for years to come
- Early evening is best time to view before it sets in the west around 3.30am
- Series of viewing events planned across the country
By Daniel Miller
To celebrate, a series of viewing events has been planned across the country as part of National Astronomy Week, which runs between March 1-8.
Steve Miller an astronomer at University College, London (UCL), said: ‘Jupiter is the giant of the solar system.
HOW BEST TO VIEW JUPITER
- From March 1, Jupiter will be at its highest point in the sky until 2026 meaning it should be easily visible across the country
- It can be seen clearly with the naked eye appearing as a very bright star
- It should be visible from early evening before setting in east at around 3.30am
- Binoculars should enable you to see the planet’s four major moons – Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. The planet will appear as a small bright cream-coloured disc with the moons as bright dots on either side.
- An entry level telescope will allow one to the planet’s main cloud bands swirling across the surface and track the movements of the Galilean moons.
- More powerful telescopes with magnifications of a few hundred times will show the Great Red Spot, Oval BA and other weather systems. They will also allow stargazers to see the colours of the moons and observe them as they move across the face of Jupiter.
For an interactive map to find a viewing event near you click here.
‘It’s over 1100 times larger than our planet Earth and 200 times heavier and it’s a very different world from the one we live in.
‘It’s not made of rock and ocean. It’s a huge ball of gas – a gas giant. It has very dynamic weather systems that make it possible to see bands, zones and other features on its surface’.
Dr Chris Arridge, also from UCL, said: ‘Through binoculars you’ll be able to see that Jupiter is distinctly non-star-like and you should be able to make out the Galilean moons of Jupiter – the four largest moons.
‘These go around Jupiter in a matter of days and so you’ll be able to watch them orbit by looking at the giant planet from one night to the next.
Jupiter will be best placed during the evening so it won’t be necessary to stay out until the small hours unless you want to
‘We expect to see the best photos ever of Jupiter taken from the UK,’ says NAW Chairman, Dr Robert Massey, “and it will be a great opportunity for everyone to get a splendid view of the giant planet.’
In just over a week, Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, will be at its highest point in the sky for many years to come.
‘Near their closest to Earth, Jupiter and its moons will appear obvious in the sky offering fantastic opportunities to view the giant planet through a telescope.’
23 Feb, 2014
Best View of Jupiter in years
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