Jupiter Over New Hampshire: At Its Closest For 2019, Next Week; Largest Moons Visible With Binoculars.
Weather Will Permit.
Every year, given the orbital dynamics, the Earth and Jupiter are atypically close for a period of around 3-weeks. This year, Jupiter will be closest to Earth next week, i.e., mid-June, 2019.
When it is this close Jupiter is only 365 million miles away. At its furthest it is 601 million miles out. So, that is quite a variance.
It will be so close that you will be able to see Jupiter’s largest satellites with just binoculars. (Jupiter currently has 79 known moons!) Watching Jupiter’s moons is ALWAYS cool and being able to do so with binoculars is a bonus. Much easier than trying to follow them with an ametuer telescope (and trust me, I have).
The weather will cooperate on at least some of the days. So, make sure to check. Showers during the day and still give us cloudless nights.
As happens quite often with us weather will intervene on Sunday — Monday when it comes to viewing Christmas Comet, 46P/Wirtanen. Yes, December 16 & December 17 are when it is closest to Earth. But, that does NOT mean that it will not be there on Tuesday or Wednesday. It will, albeit a bit further out and hence even fainter. So, binoculars would be a good idea.
So, do not despair. All is not lost. OK?
Enjoy. Happy Holidays.
It is expected to be just naked eye visible. Will definitely be able to see it with binoculars — and, of course, a telescope, even a small one. It will be a green fuzzy ball. There will be NO TAIL per se. So, don’t be looking for the tail. Just a fuzzy, glowing green ball. The green ball should be fairly big — bigger than a star.
For us in New England, the easiest bearing is going to be the easy to locate ‘winter cluster’ — Pleiades (the seven sisters). See the chart above.
…by Anura Guruge
I got this lovely e-mail and photograph, yesterday, from a reader in North Carolina.
Here is what he had to say:
“Hello Anu, You may remember I wrote you a email after reading your kindle ebook on Comet ISON a few months ago.
I had begun restoring a pair of German WW2 flak glasses to use on the comet of the epoc. I finished the restoration before Thanksgiving and i had them mounted on a period Arriflex tripod ready for ISON to round the sun when it bit the dust so to speak. I just wanted to send you a pic of the restoration because you expressed an interest in seeing them. It is too bad ISON didn’t perform for us but perhaps I will get a chance to use them on the meteor shower. The views through these glasses are simply outstanding.
James in NC.”
I had to, with his kind permission, share this with you.
Though I, a committed Brit, try to stay away from things German, I kind of liked the idea of these, though the thought bloody Germans using them to harm the Brave Allied pilots kind of makes me cringe. So, I, as ever Googled and found two intriguing entries … one in our favorite ‘How the Other Half Lives‘ catalog.
We Saw C/2011 L4 (Pan-STARRS) Tonight From Alton, New Hampshire, Through Binoculars, Thanks To Heads Up From Dave Eagle.
.by Anura Guruge
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Dave Eagle, in an e-mail this morning, gave me a heads up that C/2011 L4 (Pan-STARRS) is still visible (though I am not sure whether it is still naked eye). Per Dave, and he would know, it will be close to ‘M31‘ — i.e., Andromeda.
It was more of less where I told you to look this morning. I used those same instructions, which were: For us in New England, that would be low in the Northwest sky around 8 pm. I think trees will be the problem for us. From what I can see from my trusty Sky Charts our best bet would be to start with The Pleiades (the easy to spot ‘Seven Sisters’/Subaru cluster). They (i.e., The Pleiades) should be close to West around 8 pm. Then start scanning North from there. With luck you should be able to spot the ‘W’, the upside down crown, of Cassiopeia. M31, and hence the comet, should be below Cassiopeia.
Beautiful night for admiring the firmament. Not a cloud in the sky. The cold air making everything bright and crisp. We started off on a cleared, abandoned housing estate site close by but it didn’t have enough elevation. So headed up Prospect Mountain Road to the very top. Got to see two delightful porcupines frolicking on the road. Yes, we stopped and watched. Then we turned into Ridge Road at the end of Prospect and parked right at the zenith, off the road. Now we were above the tree line. We used Google Sky Map on a Google Nexus 7 Android 7″ pad to fine tune our direction. Great App. Very easy to use. bang, Right there. Deanna could hold it up and match Cassiopeia with what is in the sky. That helps.
I started scanning with a pair of old, very old, Carl Zeiss, 10x50W binoculars. Took me a while. But then I saw it and I said: ‘WOW’! No escaping it. When you see it you know that that is different. It was rewarding. I saw Hale-Bopp, C/1995 O1, most nights for nearly a month in 1997. That made an indelible impression. I also saw Kohoutek, C/1973 E1, faintly, in 1974, after spending days clambering up hillocks in The Mumbles, near Swansea, Wales, with like minded fellow students from the University, spread over 4 months. That was dedication. C/2011 L4 was better.
Deanna thinks it is the first comet she has seen. She is not sure whether she saw Hale-Bopp. She was thrilled. She too went: ‘Wow’. It was, of course, a first for Devanee. Teischan wasn’t interested.
So this was a nice, welcome warm-up for C/2012 S1 (ISON) later this year. That should, with luck, be more spectacular.
.by Anura Guruge
Today was the first day in a week that we have had clear skies. Nonetheless I have been out each night scanning the western skies over central NH. Nada. I am bummed. C/1973 E1 (Kohoutek) redux. Yes, in 1973 I went trudging up hills looking for Kohoutek. Did finally see it, faintly. Very anticlimactic.
Since this was our first clear night, at 8pm we went out (though we had just got back from skiing at Loon). We went up Prospect Mountain road — since we live right off it. The light pollution really annoys me. One farm was lit up like a sports stadium — and they complain about how tight their finances are. Turn off the lights.
We had three pairs of binoculars and a good compass. Stopped multiple times. Nothing.
But a beautiful array of celestial objects. Jupiter in perfect conjunction with the Moon. Pleiades. Not as bright as it is in November. Yes, it is also called the ‘Seven Sisters‘. Did you know that it is the Subaru logo? Check it out. Subaru is the Japanese name for the Pleiades. Sirius, the Dog Star, was also clearly visible.