Jupiter is two months past opposition on 10 August, so you need to be looking low in the southern sky of the British Isles around sunset if you wish to catch the solar system’s largest planet at its best. If you time it right and the weather obliges, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot makes multiple appearances while the planet’s Galilean moons play hide and seek. Welcome to our August 2019 Jovian observing guide.
Observers in the British Isles can rejoice that summer astronomical twilight all night is drawing to a close. But if Jupiter and Saturn are currently too low to view, you’re blighted by light pollution, or moonlight robs you of nebulae, why not seek out some of the many beautiful double and multiple stars on show?
The serene beauty of the International Space Station gliding silently across the sky needs nothing more than the naked eye to appreciate. But when the dazzling ISS is also in conjunction with a partially eclipsed Moon, Saturn and Jupiter on the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s launch, be sure to look low in the southeast through south around 10:06pm BST on 16 July 2019!
Observers in Western Europe with a clear sky around local midnight cannot fail to notice the conspicuous ‘star’ that is Jupiter low in the south. But look a span-and-a-half of an outstretched hand at arm’s length to Jupiter’s left and you’ll find another giant of the solar system – Saturn. The ringed planet is closest to Earth for 2019 on 9 July, so here is our quick observing guide.
July opens with Jupiter three weeks after opposition, but the largest planet is still putting on a fine show as an unmistakable magnitude -2.6 object low in the south before midnight in the constellation of Ophiuchus (the Serpent Bearer). With ongoing developments in the Jupiter’s Great Red Spot and plenty of phenomena occurring with the planet’s large Galilean moons, here’s our Jovian observing guide for July 2019.
The Great Red Spot (GRS) is the solar system’s largest known storm, an Earth-sized anticyclone that has raged in the atmosphere of Jupiter for at least two centuries. But recent observations from Earth and space suggest that this iconic Jovian feature is undergoing huge changes that could herald its demise.
On 18 June at the end of civil twilight in the UK, planets Mars and Mercury lie slightly less than one-quarter of a degree apart in the constellation of Gemini. Observing this conjunction will be a challenge from the UK as the pair will be just 5 degrees high in the west-northwest at civil dusk in bright twilight, which is about 50 minutes after sunset for London.
Jupiter, the solar system’s largest planet, reaches opposition on 10 June in the constellation of Ophiuchus (the Serpent Bearer) and is visible low in the southern sky of the UK through the night. Observers with small to medium aperture telescopes can see a number of shadow transits of Jupiter’s Galilean moons and view the planet’s Great Red Spot throughout June.