Tag Archives: Jupiter

NASA Night Sky Notes for November 2018: The Dance of the Planets

Poster’s Note 1: After many years of providing wonderful and easily understandable content to astronomers and astronomy clubs around the world, NASA Space Place has handed over the monthly article distribution to the NASA Night Sky Network. Same excellent writing (and familiar writers for the moment), now to be known as “Night Sky Notes.”

Poster’s Note 2: One of the many under-appreciated aspects of NASA is the extent to which it publishes quality science content for children and Ph.D.’s alike. Your tax dollars help promote science! The following article was provided for reprinting by the Night Sky Network in November, 2018.

By Jane Houston Jones and David Prosper

November’s crisp autumn skies bring great views of our planetary neighbors. The Moon pairs up with Saturn and Mars in the evenings, and mornings feature eye-catching arrangements with dazzling Venus. Stargazers wanting a challenge can observe a notable opposition by asteroid 3 Juno on the 17th and watch for a few bright Leonid meteors.

Red Mars gleams high in the southern sky after sunset. Saturn sits westward in the constellation Sagittarius. A young crescent Moon passes near Saturn on the 10th and 11th. On the 15th a first quarter Moon skims by Mars, coming within 1 degree of the planet. The red planet receives a new visitor on November 26th, when NASA’s InSight mission lands and begins its investigation of the planet’s interior. News briefings and commentary will be streamed live at: bit.ly/landsafe

Two bright planets hang low over the western horizon after sunset as November begins: Jupiter and Mercury. They may be hard to see, but binoculars and an unobstructed western horizon will help determined observers spot them right after sunset. Both disappear into the Sun’s glare by mid-month.

Early risers are treated to brilliant Venus sparkling in the eastern sky before dawn, easily outshining everything except the Sun and Moon. On November 6th, find a location with clear view of the eastern horizon to spot Venus next to a thin crescent Moon, making a triangle with the bright star Spica. The following mornings watch Venus move up towards Spica, coming within two degrees of the star by the second full week of November. Venus will be up three hours before sunrise by month’s end – a huge change in just weeks! Telescopic observers are treated to a large, 61” wide, yet razor-thin crescent at November’s beginning, shrinking to 41” across by the end of the month as its crescent waxes.

Observers looking for a challenge can hunt asteroid 3 Juno, so named because it was the third asteroid discovered. Juno travels through the constellation Eridanus and rises in the east after sunset. On November 17th, Juno is at opposition and shines at magnitude 7.4, its brightest showing since 1983! Look for Juno near the 4.7 magnitude double star 32 Eridani in the nights leading up to opposition. It is bright enough to spot through binoculars, but still appears as a star-like point of light. If you aren’t sure if you have identified Juno, try sketching or photographing its star field, then return to the same area over the next several days to spot its movement.

The Leonids are expected to peak on the night of the 17th through the morning of the 18th. This meteor shower has brought “meteor storms” as recently as 2002, but a storm is not expected this year. All but the brightest meteors will be drowned out by a waxing gibbous Moon.

Stay warm and enjoy this month’s dance of the planets!

You can catch up on all of NASA’s current and future missions at nasa.gov

With articles, activities and games NASA Space Place encourages everyone to get excited about science and technology. Visit spaceplace.nasa.gov to explore space and Earth science!

Caption: This finder chart shows the path of the asteroid 3 Juno as it glides past 32 Eridani in November 2018. The asteroid’s position is highlighted for selected dates, including its opposition on the 17th. Image created in Stellarium for NASA Night Sky Network.

About The NASA Night Sky Network

The Night Sky Network program supports astronomy clubs across the USA dedicated to astronomy outreach. Visit nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov to find local clubs, events, and more!

NASA Space Place – A Trip Through the Milky Way

Poster’s Note: One of the many under-appreciated aspects of NASA is the extent to which it publishes quality science content for children and Ph.D.’s alike. NASA Space Place has been providing general audience articles for quite some time that are freely available for download and republishing. Your tax dollars help promote science! The following article was provided for reprinting in September, 2018.

By Jane Houston Jones and Jessica Stoller-Conrad

2013february2_spaceplaceFeeling like you missed out on planning a last vacation of summer? Don’t worry—you can still take a late summertime road trip along the Milky Way!

The waning days of summer are upon us, and that means the Sun is setting earlier now. These earlier sunsets reveal a starry sky bisected by the Milky Way. Want to see this view of our home galaxy? Head out to your favorite dark sky getaway or to the darkest city park or urban open space you can find.

While you’re out there waiting for a peek at the Milky Way, you’ll also have a great view of the planets in our solar system. Keep an eye out right after sunset and you can catch a look at Venus. If you have binoculars or a telescope, you’ll see Venus’s phase change dramatically during September—from nearly half phase to a larger, thinner crescent.

Jupiter, Saturn and reddish Mars are next in the sky, as they continue their brilliant appearances this month. To see them, look southwest after sunset. If you’re in a dark sky and you look above and below Saturn, you can’t miss the summer Milky Way spanning the sky from southwest to northeast.

You can also use the summer constellations to help you trace a path across the Milky Way. For example, there’s Sagittarius, where stars and some brighter clumps appear as steam from a teapot. Then there is Aquila, where the Eagle’s bright Star Altair combined with Cygnus’s Deneb and Lyra’s Vega mark what’s called the “summer triangle.” The familiar W-shaped constellation Cassiopeia completes the constellation trail through the summer Milky Way. Binoculars will reveal double stars, clusters and nebulae all along the Milky Way.

Between Sept. 12 and 20, watch the Moon pass from near Venus, above Jupiter, to the left of Saturn and finally above Mars!

This month, both Neptune and brighter Uranus can also be spotted with some help from a telescope. To see them, look in the southeastern sky at 1 a.m. or later. If you stay awake, you can also find Mercury just above Earth’s eastern horizon shortly before sunrise. Use the Moon as a guide on Sept. 7 and 8.

Although there are no major meteor showers in September, cometary dust appears in another late summer sight, the morning zodiacal light. Zodiacal light looks like a cone of soft light in the night sky. It is produced when sunlight is scattered by dust in our solar system. Try looking for it in the east right before sunrise on the moonless mornings of Sept. 8 through Sept 23.

You can catch up on all of NASA’s current—and future—missions at www.nasa.gov

Caption: This illustration shows how the summer constellations trace a path across the Milky Way. To get the best views, head out to the darkest sky you can find. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

About NASA Space Place

With articles, activities, crafts, games, and lesson plans, NASA Space Place encourages everyone to get excited about science and technology. Visit spaceplace.nasa.gov (facebook|twitter) to explore space and Earth science!

CNYO Observing Event – Marcellus Free Library Astronomy Session with Bob Piekiel, 14 August 2018, 7:30 – 9:00 PM

Greetings, fellow astrophiles!

Bob Piekiel and fellow CNYO members are pleased to announce a session at Marcellus Free Library. It is always best to check-in with Marcellus Library (because then they know how many in the public are interested), but feel free to also sign up for the event on our Facebook and Meetup event pages.

Check back here or on the Facebook/Meetup pages for any updates.

Facebook Event Page | Meetup.com Event Page

Marcellus Free Library
32 Maple St
Marcellus, NY
(315) 673-3221

Event Details: This summer we will have a view of all bright major planets in the evening sky at once, and Mars making its closest approach to earth until 2035. The moon will also be visible, along with Venus, Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn.

CNYO Observing Event – Chittenango Falls, Friday, 15 June 2018, 8:30 – 10:30 PM

Greetings, fellow astrophiles!

Bob Piekiel and fellow CNYO members are pleased to announce a session at Chittenango Falls (Bob notes that an event here hasn’t happened in quite some time!). It is always best to check-in with Chittenango Falls (because then they know how many in the public are interested), but feel free to also sign up for the event on our Facebook and Meetup event pages.

The weather-alternate for this event is Saturday, June 16. Check back here or on the Facebook/Meetup pages for any updates.

Facebook Event Page | Meetup.com Event Page

Chittenango Falls State Park
2300 Rathbun Rd.
Cazenovia, NY 13035
(315) 637-6111

Event Details: It gets dark late this time of year, so our best viewing targets will be the bright planets Venus, Jupiter and Saturn. We’ll also get to see a skinny crescent moon at the start of the program. When it gets dark we will begin to see some of the Southern Milky Way.

NASA Space Place Digest For March, 2018

2013february2_spaceplace
Poster’s Note: One of the many under-appreciated aspects of NASA is the extent to which it publishes quality science content for children and Ph.D.’s alike. NASA Space Place has been providing general audience articles for quite some time that are freely available for download and republishing. Your tax dollars help promote science!

The following four articles were sent to Space Place partners and subscribers, provided in a format that offers discussions of topics of astronomical interest. As these posts are graphics-intensive, only the intro snippet is provided here with links to the full article provided for each.

All About Exoplanets

All of the planets in our solar system orbit around the sun. Planets that orbit around other stars are called exoplanets. Exoplanets are very hard to see directly with telescopes. They are hidden by the bright glare of the stars they orbit.

An artist’s representation of Kepler-11, a small, cool star around which six planets orbit. Credit: NASA/Tim Pyle

So, astronomers use other ways to detect and study these distant planets. They search for exoplanets by looking at the effects these planets have on the stars they orbit.

Read the full article…

How Do We Weigh Planets?

In real life, we can’t pick up a planet and put it on a scale. However, scientists do have ways to figure out how much a planet weighs. They can calculate how hard the planet pulls on other things. The heavier the planet, the stronger it tugs on nearby objects—like moons or visiting spacecraft. That tug is what we call gravitational pull.

Your weight is different on other planets due to gravity. However, your mass is the same everywhere!

Read the full article…

What Is a Volcano?

A volcano is an opening on the surface of a planet or moon that allows material warmer than its surroundings to escape from its interior. When this material escapes, it causes an eruption. An eruption can be explosive, sending material high into the sky. Or it can be calmer, with gentle flows of material.

Lava fountain at Kīlauea Volcano, Hawai`i. Credit: J.D Griggs, USGS

These volcanic areas usually form mountains built from the many layers of rock, ash or other material that collect around them. Volcanoes can be active, dormant, or extinct. Active volcanoes are volcanoes that have had recent eruptions or are expected to have eruptions in the near future. Dormant volcanoes no longer produce eruptions, but might again sometime in the future. Extinct volcanoes will likely never erupt again.

Read the full article…

What’s It Like Inside Jupiter?

It’s really hot inside Jupiter! No one knows exactly how hot, but scientists think it could be about 43,000°F (24,000°C) near Jupiter’s center, or core.
So, astronomers use other ways to detect and study these distant planets. They search for exoplanets by looking at the effects these planets have on the stars they orbit.

The reddish brown and white stripes of Jupiter are made up of swirling clouds. The well-known Red Spot is a huge, long-lasting storm. Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Jupiter is made up almost entirely of hydrogen and helium. On the surface of Jupiter–and on Earth–those elements are gases. However inside Jupiter, hydrogen can be a liquid, or even a kind of metal.

These changes happen because of the tremendous temperatures and pressures found at the core.
Read the full article…

About NASA Space Place

With articles, activities, crafts, games, and lesson plans, NASA Space Place encourages everyone to get excited about science and technology. Visit spaceplace.nasa.gov (facebook|twitter) to explore space and Earth science!