DR. SKY BLOG

Grab binoculars or telescope – Jupiter and Mars are coming into full view

Aug 17, 2022, 2:00 PM

(NASA Photo)...

(NASA Photo)

(NASA Photo)

As the year moves on, we are starting to see the return of the morning planets slowly become the evening planets.

I am referring to the recent opposition of Saturn on Aug. 14 and the return of giant Jupiter and the planet Mars!

We will explore the planets Jupiter and Mars and how you can best view these objects.

I hope that you are enjoying the telescopic view of Saturn and its amazing ring system and numerous satellites.

The best is yet to come as these two planets will be getting closer to Earth and brighter in the months to come.

First, let’s start with Jupiter, the largest of the planets in our solar system. Jupiter is large at 88,000 miles in diameter and a planet that has at least 79 known moon and possibly more.

Jupiter is seen here in all of its beauty and splendor.

Jupiter is a massive gas giant with a day that is only 9 hours and 55 minutes long and has four main satellites.

Jupiter makes for a great sight in a small telescope and powerful binoculars. I suggest looking at Jupiter with whatever type of optics you have. Those with telescopes will be able to see great detail and may even be able to view the great cyclone on Jupiter, the great Red Spot.

Jupiter will come to opposition on the night of Sept. 26 as it rises at sunset and will be in our sky all night.

Jupiter will lie in the border of the constellations of Cetus and Pisces.

To follow all the ways to view Jupiter, we suggest this link, which will provide you with, in our opinion, the best information on how to find Jupiter and plan your observations.

Here’s a more detailed version of the Jupiter finder.

In a small telescope you can view the never-ending motions of the main four moons. The best way to locate them and know which one is which is to look into this important link.

Jupiter is a very important planet in our solar system, as it helps to keep out many asteroids and comets which might venture our way, due to its incredible gravitational force.

Once again, you can even view the main moons – Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto – in a small low power binocular. Try it!

Next up, around midnight in the northeastern sky, is the red god of war, Mars!

Mars will be making a very close encounter with Earth in early December and now is the time to turn your telescopes to the red planet.

The 2022 apparition of Mars is detailed in this link.

Mars is a planet which is best seen in a moderate size telescope under steady sky conditions. I have observed Mars for the past 40 years and can say without hesitation that a decent-sized refractor-type telescope provides the best views!

You are now able to see Mars with some definition as it appears to have a disk of some 8 seconds of arc, small but still revealing some detail as well as one of the polar caps.

Here is a great site to follow with regard to Mars images each day.

On July 21, the seasons changed on Mar, with winter in the northern hemisphere and summer in the southern.

Mars will come as close as nearly 50 million miles of Earth in early December. This is a good time to observe Mars; as it gets closer to Earth, there is the possibility of a global dust storm, obscuring much of the surface detail.

Jupiter and Mars will keep even the beginning observer busy, with months of exploration!

Clear skies!

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.

Podcasts are available here.

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Grab binoculars or telescope – Jupiter and Mars are coming into full view