Jupiter at Opposition

Zooming in on Jupiter at Opposition   Tuesday July 14th the outer giant ringed planet Jupiter reaches the point in its orbit around the Sun that places the Earth in between Jupiter and the Sun. This is known as opposition, and opposition is an orbital position that applies to solar system objects (outer planets, dwarf planets, asteroids, comets, etc.) orbiting the Sun beyond the Earth’s orbit. An object at opposition will have approximately the same heliocentric longitude as the Earth’s heliocentric longitude. So on Tuesday both planets will have a heliocentric longitude of around 228o.
   An opposition of Jupiter occurs approximately every 13 months because both Earth and Jupiter are moving. After one Earth Revolution, an Earth year, the planet Earth will be where it was the previous year at opposition with Jupiter. However Jupiter will not be there because it has moved during the past year as well. It will take the Earth about an extra month or so to catch up with Jupiter. Earth moves 360o each year while Jupiter moves approximately 12o each Earth year.
Sunset Local Time Sunset Local Time.
   When an object is at opposition it rises at approximately the same time as local sunset and that same object at opposition sets at approximately the time of local sunrise. In other words an object at opposition will be up all night from sunrise to sunset.
   Picture our Moon at full phase and how it is directly opposite the Sun, with the Earth in between. The full Moon in effect is at opposition but we call it the full Moon instead. And so both the full Moon and Jupiter at opposition, rise at sunset, set at sunrise, and both will be visible all night.

   Jupiter is currently a few degrees to the west from Saturn and both rise and set together, although Saturn will not reach its opposition for a few more days, on the 20th of this month.

   
   
Take a brief tour of the Jovian (Jupiter) system. Music by Dark Matter.
Live recording of music written by Richard Johnson. Video by me!

   
   
   

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Comet NEOWISE or NEOWOW!!

   Could it get much better than this? Five visible planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Venus, Earth); Moon-Mars conjunction; Venus-Aldebaran conjunction; 2 outer planets and a Dwarf Planet not naked-eye visible, and Comet 2020 F3 (NEOWISE). Icing on the ‘cake’ would have been to have the ISS orbit through the sky this morning.

   
   
   

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Taurus Eyes Venus

   Saturday morning July 11th the inner planet Venus will be about 1o from the reddish star Aldebaran in Taurus the Bull. Aldebaran marks the ‘angry eye’ of the bull and is at one end of a v-shaped group of stars, the Hyades, that make up the face of Taurus.

   Venus has just spent the past several days traversing the Hyades, an open star cluster composed of hundreds of stars. The Hyades, at a estimated distance of 150 light years, is the closest open star cluster in our galaxy to the Earth.
    With binoculars the view of Venus, the Hyades, and Aldebaran is striking with Venus brightly shining at about a -4.5 apparent magnitude and Aldebaran with a 0.9 apparent magnitude.

   Also on this day the 20-day old waning gibbous Moon will be about 4-5o from the planet Mars.

   
   
   
   
   
   

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Comet 2020 F3 (NEOWISE) and Venus-Hyades Transit – Follow up

General location of the comet

   Here are pictures of the inner planet Venus in transit across the Hyades open star cluster, and of Comet 2020 F3 (NEOWISE) as both appeared over the northeastern to eastern horizon.
   Pictures were taken around 5:00 am CDT with a Canon Rebel EOS T7i DSLR using a variety of settings for exposure, shutter speed and so on. Location was near a baseball field at Legacy Park in Lee’s Summit, MO.
   
   
   
   
   
   



   
   
   

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Venus, the Bull, and a Comet (yes!)

   The next several days offer some exciting opportunities for viewing: a few of the visible planets; the waning phases of our Moon and a few conjunctions with stars and planets; Venus crossing the stars of the Hyades open star cluster; and Comet 2020 F3 (NEOWISE).
   Comet 2020 F3 (NEOWISE) is one of the many comets discovered by the NASA NEOWISE mission.
   NEOWISE is a space-based telescope used to find and track ‘Near Earth Objects’, comets and asteroids, that may pose a threat to our planet.
   Click on this link to go to the SkyLive web site for viewing information about Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE).

   
   
   

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Thin Moon on the Move

   Sunday June 21st, on the other side of the Earth from the U.S.A., the new Moon will be passing between the Earth and the Sun giving that side of the world an annular solar eclipse.
   About 1/2-day later the just past new Moon, an 0.80-day young thin waxing crescent Moon may be seen just above the western horizon at sunset local time. If you see the Moon look closely for a star-like object just to the left from the Moon. This is the inner planet Mercury.
   If you miss the Moon and Mercury on Sunday evening wait until Monday evening June 22nd to see the still thin 1.85-days old waxing crescent Moon near one of the Gemini ‘Twin’ stars, Pollux.
   Not had enough? On Tuesday June 23rd the 2.80-days young waxing crescent Moon will be near M44, the Beehive Cluster.
   Any of these conjunctions will look great in binoculars.

   
   
   

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Moon on the Move

   Over the next several days the Moon, as it waxes toward first quarter, will be moving toward the east and as it does the Moon will pass by several of the brighter stars along the Moon’s orbital path. This will take the Moon near Pollux, one of the Gemini ‘Twins’, and then past Regulus, the ‘Heart’ of Leo the Lion. On the 27th you may be able to see the open star cluster, M-44, or also known as the Beehive Cluster.



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Moon – Venus Conjunction

click on graphic to see it larger   Sunday evening April 26th, at sunset, look toward the western horizon for the 4-day old waxing crescent Moon to be about 7o from the inner planet Venus.

   The combination of the waxing crescent Moon with the brightly shining Venus will make for a good view through binoculars, albeit somewhat bright. And while you are using binoculars aim a bit lower for a look at the two open star clusters within Taurus the Bull: the v-shaped Hyades, and the tiny dipper-shaped Pleiades.
   
   
   

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Crescent Moon and the Hyades

   Saturday evening April 25th, at around sunset, the 3-day old waxing crescent Moon will be 1-2o from the reddish star Aldebaran in the constellation Taurus the Bull. Aldebaran is the brightest star in Taurus and also the brightest star of the v-shaped open star cluster the Hyades.

   The combination of the waxing crescent Moon with the stars of the Pleiades will make for a good view through binoculars.

   
   
   

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Venus and the Pleiades – Miss it?

   Last night, April 3rd the inner planet Venus was in the middle of a 3-day cruise across the members of the open star cluster the Pleiades. This is a not so often occurring celestial event that requires a bit of coordination between the orbit of Venus and the location of the Pleiades. Every year Venus will be near the Pleiades but it is only every 8 years around the beginning of April that Venus will pass across the Pleiades as it is doing this year.
   Has your local weather has been like mine these past few days with overcast skies. Then last night “adding insult to injury”, we had sleet and ice ensuring that any view of the Venus and Pleiades would be limited to pictures on Twitter! This was the only picture I was able to get on April 1st as clouds were moving in.
   So if you did indeed miss it there is always a next time – 8 years from now on, April 3rd, 2028 you will have another opportunity as the graphics below show.


   
   
   

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