Having been a glorious fixture of the spring sky, Jupiter is poised to leave the celestial stage as summer approaches. The largest planet is currently setting in the west four hours after the Sun as seen from the heart of the UK. Jovian observing opportunities are therefore confined to the window between dusk and about 1am local time.
If clear, don’t miss Jupiter’s close conjunction with the 7-day-old lunar crescent that occurs on Saturday, 11 June when, at 11pm BST, the Moon and largest planet lie just 2⅔ degrees apart in southern Leo. The pair will be framed beautifully in a typical 10×50 binocular.
Jupiter’s Great Red Spot (GRS) is favourably positioned for UK observers with 3-inch (76mm) aperture telescopes and larger on 10, 15, 17 and 22 June, but the planet’s low altitude from the British Isles will make it difficult to discern fine surface detail.
Phenomena of Jupiter’s Galilean moons
Poor seeing at low altitude will also make shadow transit observations of Jovian moons Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto somewhat challenging from the British Isles. Nevertheless, do try to see some of the following (all times BST):
10 June: shadow transit of Ganymede in progress as darkness falls, ends at 11:48pm.
11 June: shadow transit of Europa starts at 11:30pm.
16 June: shadow transit of Io in progress as darkness falls, ends at 12:50am (17th).
Inside the magazine
Find out all you need to know about what is currently happening in the night sky and how to observe it in the June 2016 edition of Astronomy Now.
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