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Jupiter at Opposition September 16, 2010

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy, Galileoscope, MichiganAstro.
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It is Sept. 16 2010 as I write this. On Sept 20, Jupiter will be the closest it has been to Earth since 1963, and it won’t get as close again until 2022.  In other words, it’s the best view of the giant planet for decades.

It is at opposition on the 21, so on the 20 it will rise just a little after sunset, and be a it’s highest around midnight solar time (that’s about 1:30 AM in SE Michigan).  After opposition, it moves slowly into the evening sky, so you’ll have plenty of convenient opportunities in the next couple of months to watch it slowly shrink in the evening skies. Just look to the east, you can’t miss it (unless its cloudy of course…)

It was just over 400 years ago the Galileo turned his telescope on the giant planet and spotted 4 tiny points of light all in a line.  We now call those the Galilean Moons: Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. With Jupiter so close, they should be easy to spot, event through a Galileoscope or pair of binoculars.  You can figure out which moon is which using this handy JavaScript applet from sky and telescope:

http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/objects/javascript/jupiter
So why are you still reading this? Get out there and look up!

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