The planet Jupiter is always one of the brightest objects in the night sky. It’s brighter than any star, and is only outshone by the planet Venus and the Moon, and, very rarely, by Mars and Mercury. Jupiter reaches a position for optimum viewing in a telescope once every 13 months, roughly, and it makes its latest closest approach to Earth on June 10, 2019 when the planet appears in the (non zodiacal) constellation Ophiuchus along the southern ecliptic. A couple of months before and after this date, Jupiter is in perfect position for viewing with a small telescope, or even a pair of binoculars. You can’t miss it: the planet is by far the brightest object in the southeastern sky. The visible face of Jupiter reveals so many interesting features in a small telescope that the planet is a favorite target for new and experienced stargazers [Read more…] about A Guide to Observing the Planet Jupiter – 2019Share This:
Solar System Observing
Articles about how to understand, find and see solar system objects including planets, the Moon, the Sun, asteroids, meteors, and comets with binoculars, telescopes, and the naked eye.
As the Moon reaches first quarter, and a day or two past, the Sun casts a dramatic shadow across the Mare Imbrium and a selection of prominent craters, mountains, and an unmistakable lunar valley. Even a tiny telescope will help you see these features as shown in the image above [Read more…] about Lunar Tour – Plato and RegionShare This:
The planet Mars is coy. It spends most of its time as a relatively inconspicuous star-like object, only moderately bright, drifting barely noticed though the sky, little seen, or sometimes hiding behind the Sun.
Once every two years it grows bolder. It decides to put on a show. But even then, it’s sneaky about it, gathering its glory in the late hours of the night, seen mainly by dedicated astronomers, those who know what to expect and where to look.
And then, at the apex of its splendor, it rises at sunset, blazing across the sky all night for a few brief weeks, revealing itself in a level of detail far beyond what it will normally display [Read more…] about Mars MeditationsShare This:
The planet Mars is one of the most interesting planets to observe with a small telescope, but also one of the most difficult. The planet only gets close enough to Earth to give up much detail just once every 780 days (about two years and two months), and when it does make an apparition, it still appears relatively small compared to Jupiter or Saturn. But observing Mars is worth the effort. It’s the only planet to reveal an appreciable amount of surface detail in a small telescope, and it also features occasional surprises such as dust storms and local fogs and cloud banks.
Seeing Mars takes a little practice, however, as well as the right tools for the job. This guide will help you understand what you can see on the surface of Mars, especially during the time before and after the opposition of July 27, 2018, when Mars makes its closest approach to Earth since 2003. And it will help you get the best view of this remarkable world with a telescope and a few essential accessories [Read more…] about How to See Mars in 2018Share This:
Many casual observers get hooked on amateur astronomy after a first look at Saturn through a telescope. More than a few have looked through my small refractor on a night of good seeing and asked of Saturn, “Is it real?” Yes, it is real. And it’s one of the most beautiful things you will ever see. The color of Saturn, the proportions, the apparent 3D perspective of this grand icy world make it arguably the finest sight accessible with a small telescope. The planet reaches opposition on June 27, 2018 and will remain bright and large in a telescope over the next few months. Here’s how to find it and see it in a small telescope.