Tag: Sirius

Jupiter; Discover Stargazing 21/04/2015

by on Apr.29, 2015, under Dark Skies, Druridge Bay, Northumberland

One of the great joys of being a dark sky guide is using good optical equipment to allow participants on our stargazing sessions to see detail in things that are only visible to the naked eye as points of light.

Venus and Jupiter were obvious in the twilight, and Sirius had vanished into the murk just above the horizon to the south, when Jane arrived for our Discover Stargazing session.  Sarah and Jodie arrived a few minutes later and we began our exploration of the night sky, starting with the Moon and the two impressive clusters in Taurus, the Hyades and the Pleiades.  Using pointers, particularly in Cassiopeia and The Plough, to locate other objects in the sky is always good fun and lets people start to make sense of what can often be a daunting amount of stars when it’s a clear evening at a good dark sky site, and the number of satellites passing over comes as shock to everyone, but the real star of this session was Jupiter.  The fourth brightest object in the solar system, more than 300x the mass of the Earth, taking nearly twelve years to orbit the Sun and with a surface temperature of -108C, Jupiter is an impressive planet.  Without going to extreme magnification we could still see bands on the surface of the planet and three of the Galilean moons.  Hard to believe but, including the four Galilean moons that are large enough to be seen through binoculars or a telescope, Jupiter has 67 moons.  There’s an awful lot of stuff up there, and we can’t see most of it!

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