Around the Sky in 28 Days – Days 14-16
September 22, 2010 1 Comment
Tonight marks the Full Moon (9:18 UT, 2:18 am PDT, 3:18 am MDT, 4:18 am CDT, 5:18 am EDT). But that’s not it! Today is also the 1st day of Spring. Also both Jupiter and Uranus were at opposition only 2 days ago. As a result, the 1st Full Moon of autumn is located right next to a brilliant Jupiter and an easy to find Uranus.
The charts below show the location of the Moon, Jupiter and Uranus for the next 3 nights. Each chart is for the early evening a few hours after sunset.
Definitely take the opportunity to use a pair of binoculars or a telescope to take a peak at Jupiter. The planet is large enough to appear as a small globe even in the smallest of instruments. Also obvious are its 4 Galilean satellites (Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto). The moons are surprisingly bright at 4th-5th magnitude and would be easy naked eye objects under a dark sky if they weren’t swamped by the glow of Jupiter. Note, all 4 moons may not be visible at any particular time since the moons can be located behind or even in front of Jupiter’s disk. The chart below shows the positions of the moons in the early evening of the 22nd.
Uranus is as bright as the faintest Galilean satellites and located not that much further away from Jupiter. While Jupiter is located 3.95 AU from Earth (about as close as it can get), Uranus is farther away at a distance of 19.09 AU. In small scopes, Uranus will probably look like a green star. At high magnifications one might notice the planet as a very small disk.