Jupiter is currently in the constellation Gemini (which has two bright stars, Pollux and Castor), found east of Orion. Shown here at 10:00 PM AST on November 24, 2013.
(Image source: screenshot from free planetarium software Stellarium: www.stellarium.org)
Jupiter is appearing once again in our evening sky after several months absence.
As Earth and Jupiter both travel around the Sun, Jupiter’s position relative to the Sun changes as viewed from Earth. When Jupiter is on the other side of the Sun from Earth (called conjunction), we are unable to see Jupiter because it appears to be near the Sun from our vantage point (and its reflected light is overwhelmed by the Sun’s light).
When Jupiter is on the same side of Sun as Earth (called “opposition”), it appears bright and highest in our night sky. As Jupiter nears opposition (which next occurs in January, 2014), it changes from rising just before sunrise to rising earlier in the night. Currently, it’s rising around 8:00 PM and can then be seen in the evening and night sky.
You can easily spot Jupiter with the naked eye – it’s one of the brightest objects in the sky. Look for it east of Orion near two bright stars of the constellation Gemini (as shown in the first image above).
If you have binoculars that you can hold good and steady, you may also be able to spot Jupiter’s four largest moons (called “Galilean” after Galileo, their discoverer) as four bright dots in a line around Jupiter. These moons will switch position from one night to another as they orbit around Jupiter.
Jupiter and its largest moons viewed through binoculars
As the forecast is calling for rain showers, flurries, and clouds over the weekend, the weather will be unsuitable for viewing the skies so our Public Viewing scheduled for this weekend is cancelled.
Due to cloudy skies, we have cancelled the viewing scheduled for Saturday, October 12, 2013.
The weather is looking clear for tomorrow evening, so we are tentatively scheduling a viewing for Sunday, October 13, 2013 from 7:00 to 9:00 PM. The forecast will be evaluated later tomorrow and an update posted if this viewing also needs to be cancelled (Keep your fingers crossed for clear skies!).
If the viewing goes ahead, those wishing to attend are asked to meet in Memorial Building Room 417.
UPDATED 5:17 PM October 12 – This viewing has been cancelled due to weather. Please see most recent website post for information about the “cloud”-date viewing.
We have a public viewing scheduled for Saturday, October 12 from 7:00 to 9:00 PM. Those attending the viewing are asked to meet in Memorial Building Room 417.
The weather forecast is looking pretty good now, but with a chance of clouds which may interfere with viewing depending on where they land in the sky. If the weather isn’t appropriate for viewing on Saturday, an update will be posted here by 6:30 PM.
We have a “rain”-date scheduled for Sunday at 7:00-9:00 PM in the event of cancelling Saturday’s event.
Our Introductory Astronomy (Physics 251) students were observing the Moon during their laboratory session last night which included a telescope viewing. Many of them took photos of the telescope’s Moon view by holding their phone-cameras up to the eyepiece. As you can see in the photo below, with a steady hand a nice photo can be obtained.
The waxing crescent Moon as seen through the UPEI telescope on October 10, 2013. (Photo by Alex Stavert)
We’re hoping to offer some astrophotography opportunities (that won’t require such steady hands!) at some of our future public viewings. We’ve just received an Orion SteadyPix Deluxe Camera Mount to fit over our new telescope’s eyepiece.
The camera attachment post on the lateral bar will screw into the base of most cameras, allowing the camera to rest in front of the telescope eyepiece. We’ve tried fitting the device onto our telescope today and now need to test it out with some cameras before it’s ready to make its public debut.
So, with any luck, you’ll soon see a notice on this site for a bring-your-own-camera public viewing.
Potential viewing for Sep 14th canceled due to projected overcast skies and rain.
As of 3:45pm on Sunday, the weather looks reasonable for the viewing tonight (lack of clouds, unsettled atmosphere). As the atmosphere will be too unsettled to try to deep sky objects, we’ll be focusing on the moon tonight.
One of the main viewing objects of the August 24th session was the Ring Nebula. It’s an object that can’t be resolved with binoculars and is almost directly overhead in our Northern summer skies.
Nebulae and other deep sky objects benefit from having a larger telescope to collect faint light, having a calm atmosphere (Saturday was “average”), and having little to no light pollution. The best case, as in the Hubble telescope pictures, is to be above the Earth’s atmosphere completely, but that’s not something easily arranged. The pictures in the Wikipedia article linked above are very nice examples, some digitally enhanced. We pushed the edge of a couple of those categories, but most people were able to see the “ring” aspect of the nebulae (this link leads to a picture closer to what we saw).
An issue we’ve had with our Saturday viewings is there seems to be many occasions when the weather is overcast/raining/storming/etcetera on Saturday while Sunday is clear. We recognize that Saturday evening would still be a better night for many people, especially those with children still in elementary school, so we’re enacting a scheduling format change.
The new policy, starting in September, will be to schedule viewings on the SECOND Saturday of the month (instead of the 3rd) and then to have Sunday evening as a “rain-date” if the Saturday is cancelled. We could still have overcast skies both evenings, but there’s a greater chance that one of the viewings will run. We will focus on setting up viewings in September – April and then only run viewings in the summer if there is a particular event or a group-organized viewing.
The August viewing with be slightly anomalous as due to a scheduling issue, we are offering it on August 24th instead of August 17th.
Viewings August 2013 to April 2014 (Dates in red corrected August 21, 2013)
||Sunday(only possible if Saturday cancelled)
||Start to End Time
Update as of 6:30pm July 20th: We’ve got clouds and the Charlottetown clear sky clock has us as either “too cloudy to forecast” to “poor” plus the added risk of a thunderstorm, means we’ll be canceling tonight’s session. There’s the possibility of an extra session before the August 17th one, and if it goes ahead, I’ll post more information. Better safe than electrocuted.
Update as of July 17th: New telescope up and running, but we’re all still getting used to it so please be patient if there’s any issues. Note that on Saturday we’ll be checking out the moon and trying to get a good glimpse of Saturn. Saturn may dip below the level our telescope can focus on later in the evening, so if you want to see it — the tilt of the rings is beautiful right now — earlier but full dark would be best.
Weather forecast for Saturday as of July 17th is not good (thunderstorms). Any cancellation notice will be put up as soon as possible (latest 6:30pm on Saturday).
Our next regularly scheduled public viewing will be on Saturday July 20th, from 9:30-11pm. Any changes, news updates or cancellation due to inclement weather will occur within this post.
The moon will be 88% full (close to full, full moon July 22-24).
The UPEI Physics is saying “Farewell”, potentially forever, to our Meade 14″ RCX 400. It’s always had electronic issues during cold weather, but now it’s having electronics issues with it’s focusing. As the people who attended our last monthly viewing can attest, a telescope that’s meant to be focus controlled electronically is very hard to use when that’s not working.
We’ll be taking apart the telescope to see if we can fix it. It’s not supported by Meade anymore (legacy product). If it can be fixed, we’ll bring it back up to the dome.
In the meantime, we’d like to say “Hello” to our new Meade LX80 Multi-Mount with 8″ f/10 Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. Received as a kind donation from Pat Sinnott, it’s smaller so we’ll have more room to maneuver in the dome, has a manual focus. As it’s more portable, we’ll have the potential to take it out in the field or set up daytime solar viewings when we get the necessary safety filters. With the right optics, we should be able to see almost everything we saw with our 14″ RCX400 and potentially be able to add more features such as astrophotography. It’s set up right now and we’re doing preliminary testing. We hope to have it up and running by our July 20th Saturday viewing.
We’re also saying “Hello” to our new WordPress hosted website. We’ve got some ideas on promoting astronomy in general and astronomy at UPEI. In cooperation with the Charlottetown RASC (Royal Astronomical Society of Canada), we’re planning changes for our public viewing structure for the fall of 2013. More news posted as it’s confirmed. We hope you enjoy the new site and that we are able to showcase the UPEI astronomy events.