Jupiter opposition: What is visible in the sky tonight and why is the planet so bright?

Science

The Independent 19 August, 2021 - 10:11am 41 views

When is Jupiter visible?

The planet will be visible from sunset to sunrise and it reaches its highest point around midnight, according to NASA. Jupiter will be especially easy to spot tonight with the naked eye since it will appear near the bright moon, according to EarthSky. FOX 2 DetroitJupiter Opposition 2021: When, how to see Jupiter at its biggest, brightest

LOOK UP: Now is a great time for sky-gazing

News 5 Cleveland 31 December, 1969 - 06:00pm

CLEVELAND — August is perhaps the best time this year to enjoy viewing Jupiter and Saturn, as both planets reach opposition this month. "Opposition" is the term for when a planet is on the same side of the solar system as Earth, and directly opposite from the Sun. It happens each year as Earth loops around in its orbit, passing by the much slower-moving gas giant planets. Saturn's opposition has already happened (August 2) but Jupiter's is today (August 19). This will be when Jupiter is at its closest and brightest. Both planets will appear to shift toward the west over the coming months, making them visible earlier in the evening sky.

As you're enjoying Jupiter and Saturn, the moon will become full beneath the pair of planets over several days from the 19th to the 22nd. Plus, the full moon on August 22 is what's known as a "seasonal blue moon," as it's the third full moon out of four this season, where normally each season there are only three. This happens every two-and-a-half to three years, or as they say, "once in a blue moon." As the third full moon in a season that has four full moons, this will be a Blue Moon by the older definition. The first recorded use of "Blue Moon" in English dates from 1528. The Moon will not actually appear blue in color.

This next full moon has been called the Sturgeon or Green Corn Moon, Raksha Bandham, Nikini Poya, the end of the Esala Perahera Festival, and the Hungry Ghost Moon. For more sky-gazing tips - head over to NASA's website.

Diamonds at the core? - Skywatching

Castanet.net 21 August, 2021 - 12:00pm

These evenings it is hard to miss that bright, starlike object in the southern sky, shining steadily like a lamp. The lack of twinkling tells us that it is not a star; it is a planet: Jupiter, the fifth planet out from the sun.

If you have any sort of telescope or binoculars, get them out to have a look. Binoculars will show a tan-coloured disc with maybe traces of cloud belts. There will be up to four starlike objects forming a line passing through the planet. These are the planet's four largest moons: Io, the closest, and then, going outwards, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. A telescope, with its higher magnification, will show the disc of the planet, crossed with grey and brown cloud belts.

Jupiter is huge, with a diameter of about 143,000 km. It is big enough to contain over 1,300 Earths. If that planet were a rock ball like the Earth, we would expect its mass to be something like 1,300 times that of the Earth. However, the giant planet is only 320 times more massive than the Earth. This means it must be mostly atmosphere. Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are similar. We call such planets gas giants. When on a long-distance flight, we are above most of the Earth's atmosphere. Jupiter's atmosphere is tens of thousands of kilometres deep. It is made up of a mixture of hydrogen, helium, methane and ammonia, together with a witches brew of organic compounds. These give the planet that tan colour.

Earth's atmosphere started off as more or less the same gaseous mixture as Jupiter's. Under the right conditions the chemicals in this mixture can be persuaded to react, forming aminoacids, an important ingredient for life as we know it. Living creatures here have consumed those chemicals and given us the oxygen atmosphere we have today. The fact we can see these chemicals still there in Jupiter's atmosphere suggests there are no living things there to consume it. However, scientists have fantasized about great blimp creatures floating around in its deep atmosphere. They would have to live in the upper few thousand kilometres because deeper in the atmosphere conditions become more and more extreme.

A few thousand kilometres down into Jupiter's atmosphere the pressure reaches 100-200 million bars, where one bar is the pressure at the Earth's surface. This is where the word "barometer" comes from. As we go downwards, the temperature increases too, so that we eventually reach a point where chemical based life just cannot exist. As we get deeper in towards the centre of the planet, the pressure reaches billions of atmospheres. Under these pressures, gases no longer behave like gases; they are more like liquids or squidgy solids. There might not be a rocky core at all. However, some theories indicate Jupiter might have a very expensive core, a diamond one.

Diamonds are made of carbon. Under extreme temperatures and pressures, carbon atoms do not form the black, sooty stuff we are familiar with; they form diamonds. On Earth, these conditions occur deep underground. They also occur in Jupiter's atmosphere. As we get deeper in that planet's atmosphere, the temperature rises, and under conditions of extreme heat and pressure, methane, which consists of one carbon atom attached to four hydrogen atoms, breaks up. The freed-up carbon atoms diffuse slowly downward, joining together into diamonds, which rain down to the centre of the planet. This might be going on in the cores of the other gas giant planets too. So Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune might hold unimaginable riches, but it is extremely unlikely we will ever manage to get our hands on them.

Ken Tapping is an astronomer born in the U.K. He has been with the National Research Council since 1975 and moved to the Okanagan in 1990.  

He plays guitar with a couple of local jazz bands and has written weekly astronomy articles since 1992. 

Tapping has a doctorate from the University of Utrecht in The Netherlands.

JUPITER AT OPPOSITION TONIGHT! Step By Step Directions For How To Find The Gas Giant...

WDRB 21 August, 2021 - 12:00pm

Partly cloudy with rain wrapping up

Email notifications are only sent once a day, and only if there are new matching items.

Jupiter Opposition 2021: When, how to see Jupiter at its biggest, brightest

FOX 5 DC 19 August, 2021 - 06:32pm

A NASA spacecraft got closer to Jupiter and its moon than ever before and captured some images.

Calling all stargazers! Jupiter reaches its biggest and brightest point in the night sky on Aug. 19.

The gas giant will be at opposition today, meaning it's directly opposite to the sun in Earth’s sky — rising in the east as the sun sets in the west. Jupiter will also make its closest approach of the year to Earth tonight — meaning, the planet will be well within naked-eye range and outshine any star in the night sky.

RELATED: Bennu asteroid: Earth's chances of collision with space rock slim, NASA says

"August is perhaps the best time this year to enjoy viewing Jupiter and Saturn, as both planets reach opposition this month," NASA said in a blog post. Saturn reached opposition on Aug. 2. 

The planet will be visible from sunset to sunrise and it reaches its highest point around midnight, according to NASA.

Jupiter will be especially easy to spot tonight with the naked eye since it will appear near the bright moon, according to EarthSky. But, telescopes users will get a treat looking at Jupiter’s moons and atmospheric bands, which can be viewed tonight through a telescope.

Jupiter’s massive red storm will be visible near the center of the planet for viewers in the Northern Hemisphere around 9:34 pm E.T., according to Astronomy.

RELATED: Moon aligns with Saturn and Jupiter in weekend celestial show

On Saturday, Aug. 21, stargazers can look for Jupiter lying above the moon. But this moon, August’s full moon, is called a "Blue Moon."

Normally a "Blue Moon" defines a second full moon that occurs in one calendar cycle. But the full moon in August is the only full moon of the month — but it’s called a "Blue Moon" because of an obscure old almanac rule.

Over the next few nights, Jupiter, Saturn and the moon will appear close together, the closest on Aug. 20. The trio will appear in the eastern sky as the sun sets in the western sky.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2021 FOX Television Stations

Jupiter Opposition 2021: When, how to see Jupiter at its biggest, brightest

CGTN 19 August, 2021 - 06:32pm

A NASA spacecraft got closer to Jupiter and its moon than ever before and captured some images.

Calling all stargazers! Jupiter reaches its biggest and brightest point in the night sky on Aug. 19.

The gas giant will be at opposition today, meaning it's directly opposite to the sun in Earth’s sky — rising in the east as the sun sets in the west. Jupiter will also make its closest approach of the year to Earth tonight — meaning, the planet will be well within naked-eye range and outshine any star in the night sky.

RELATED: Bennu asteroid: Earth's chances of collision with space rock slim, NASA says

"August is perhaps the best time this year to enjoy viewing Jupiter and Saturn, as both planets reach opposition this month," NASA said in a blog post. Saturn reached opposition on Aug. 2. 

The planet will be visible from sunset to sunrise and it reaches its highest point around midnight, according to NASA.

Jupiter will be especially easy to spot tonight with the naked eye since it will appear near the bright moon, according to EarthSky. But, telescopes users will get a treat looking at Jupiter’s moons and atmospheric bands, which can be viewed tonight through a telescope.

Jupiter’s massive red storm will be visible near the center of the planet for viewers in the Northern Hemisphere around 9:34 pm E.T., according to Astronomy.

RELATED: Moon aligns with Saturn and Jupiter in weekend celestial show

On Saturday, Aug. 21, stargazers can look for Jupiter lying above the moon. But this moon, August’s full moon, is called a "Blue Moon."

Normally a "Blue Moon" defines a second full moon that occurs in one calendar cycle. But the full moon in August is the only full moon of the month — but it’s called a "Blue Moon" because of an obscure old almanac rule.

Over the next few nights, Jupiter, Saturn and the moon will appear close together, the closest on Aug. 20. The trio will appear in the eastern sky as the sun sets in the western sky.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2021 FOX Television Stations

Jupiter Opposition 2021: When, how to see Jupiter at its biggest, brightest

WDRB 19 August, 2021 - 06:32pm

A NASA spacecraft got closer to Jupiter and its moon than ever before and captured some images.

Calling all stargazers! Jupiter reaches its biggest and brightest point in the night sky on Aug. 19.

The gas giant will be at opposition today, meaning it's directly opposite to the sun in Earth’s sky — rising in the east as the sun sets in the west. Jupiter will also make its closest approach of the year to Earth tonight — meaning, the planet will be well within naked-eye range and outshine any star in the night sky.

RELATED: Bennu asteroid: Earth's chances of collision with space rock slim, NASA says

"August is perhaps the best time this year to enjoy viewing Jupiter and Saturn, as both planets reach opposition this month," NASA said in a blog post. Saturn reached opposition on Aug. 2. 

The planet will be visible from sunset to sunrise and it reaches its highest point around midnight, according to NASA.

Jupiter will be especially easy to spot tonight with the naked eye since it will appear near the bright moon, according to EarthSky. But, telescopes users will get a treat looking at Jupiter’s moons and atmospheric bands, which can be viewed tonight through a telescope.

Jupiter’s massive red storm will be visible near the center of the planet for viewers in the Northern Hemisphere around 9:34 pm E.T., according to Astronomy.

RELATED: Moon aligns with Saturn and Jupiter in weekend celestial show

On Saturday, Aug. 21, stargazers can look for Jupiter lying above the moon. But this moon, August’s full moon, is called a "Blue Moon."

Normally a "Blue Moon" defines a second full moon that occurs in one calendar cycle. But the full moon in August is the only full moon of the month — but it’s called a "Blue Moon" because of an obscure old almanac rule.

Over the next few nights, Jupiter, Saturn and the moon will appear close together, the closest on Aug. 20. The trio will appear in the eastern sky as the sun sets in the western sky.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2021 FOX Television Stations

Science Stories