Jupiter and its moons will fill the eyes of starwatchers in October
Jupiter, the king of the planets, is the dominant planet in our October skies.
Jupiter is now nearly 400 million miles from your eye on these early nights of the month and still offers a lot for the beginning observer to the most advanced.
Easy to spot high in the southeastern sky at sunset, Jupiter remains an easy object for you to observe and follow well past midnight.
A pair or binoculars will show some of the four main moons and even at that they will appear as a tiny speck next to this gas giant.
You really need a small telescope to view the main moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. Having said that, here is a link to help you identify which moons are visible on any given night and the location of each.
Not only will this site tell you what you are seeing, but it will also alert you to the date and times when the moons will be in eclipse or transit Jupiter.
An amazing sight to see is when the shadow of one of the moons will be seen on the disk of Jupiter too!
Here is an image of such an event.
Upon further inspection, the cloud tops of Jupiter are quite amazing too. You can view and resolve many bands and belts on the planet with a moderate-sized telescope.
Here is a graphic which will help you to identify the belts and bands on Jupiter.
For those of you who have a deep interest in what is going on with the planet Jupiter from the perspective of an unmanned spacecraft, we introduce the current spacecraft, Juno, which has been orbiting Jupiter for the past few years and providing us with some spectacular images of the giant planet.
More on the Juno mission at Jupiter is found here.
Finally, for those of you who would like some really detailed data on the position of Jupiter in the night sky, you will find these links to help:
Jupiter is the king of planets!
To print your own monthly star chart, click here.
To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.
Listen to the Dr. Sky Show on KTAR News 92.3 FM every Saturday at 3 a.m.
The Dr.Sky Podcast is found here.