2021: The Giants at Opposition!

(L-to-R) Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune will reach opposition at some point this summer and fall. The planets will be far apart in the sky but are shown together in this composite image scaled to their relative sizes on opposition date. Your actual view in the telescope will differ. Jupiter & Saturn © Chuck Pavlick (Celestron 9¼ Edge HD with 2.5x Powermate and ZWO ASI 224MC camera), and Uranus & Neptune © Dane Hankin (Celestron NexStar 6SE with 2.5x Powermate and ZWO ASI 224MC camera).
Opposition: Earth and outer planet line up on the same side with Sun (bottom of diagram). Conjunction: Earth and outer planet line up on opposite sides of the sun (top of diagram). Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech.

An “opposition” happens on the day that Earth and an outer planet line up on the same side of the Sun. For Earth observers, a planet in opposition will rise when the Sun sets and will be in the sky all night. Around the time of opposition, the planet is brightest, practically fully illuminated, and displays the largest angular diameter for the year. Right before, during, and after opposition are prime-time for viewing and imaging a planet!
 
Amateur and large observatory scopes can do best when imaging planets at opposition. It was just announced this summer that amateur astronomer Kai Ly discovered an unknown moon of Jupiter while examining opposition images taken with the 3.6-meter Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope at Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii. This news comes just in time to take some confirmation images as Jupiter opposition season is upon us now!
 

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Images: The Great Conjunction!

Jupiter and Saturn in conjunction on 12/20/2020. by Instagram user Rodrigo Carvajal. All rights reserved. Used by permission. The planets were 7.5-minutes-of-arc apart. Imaging was done with 11-inch, f/5 Newtonian Reflector using Tele Vue Paracorr Type-2 Coma Corrector onto a QHY5III 178C Camera. Two 60-second videos combined to correctly expose both planets. From Santiago, Chile. From there, the planets were 23.5-deg above the horizon at sunset.

The Jupiter and Saturn “Great Conjunction” was well-publicized and well-imaged. Even though the closest approach between the planets was Monday, they’re still in the vicinity and worth a look tonight! This gallery contains some of the best images of the event we found on-line, acquired with Tele Vue products.

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Have You Been Watching Jupiter & Saturn?

A simulated eyepiece view of the Jupiter and Saturn conjunction on 21 December 2020 with stars removed. The field of view is about ¼ degrees. The four Galilean moons will be easy to spot. Saturn’s moons are much dimmer and will blend in with the field stars. Your view may be rotated and inverted depending on the equipment used and location on the Earth.
Great Conjunction: Countdown to December 21st!
On December 16th, Jupiter and Saturn will be a full-Moon’s width apart at dusk as they sink into the south-western horizon. Watch this pair each evening as they draw ever-closer together until they pass within 1/10 of a degree on December 21st. This is the great Jupiter / Saturn Conjunction of 2020! This is the closest they’ve been together since 1623 and most sources say that conjunction was not observed due to the planet’s vicinity to the Sun. The last time the pair was definitely visible this close together was in 1226 in the morning sky. This is a rare “must-see” event indeed!

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Tele Vue-76: Imaging the Skies over Washington!

Andrew Thomas has been posting beautiful wide-field sky images on his Flickr feed. He’s imaging with one of our smaller scopes, the highly portable and capable Tele Vue-76 APO refractor! Here’s an image made by Andrew with this scope during the Great American Eclipse in August 2017.

2017-08-21 Solar Eclipse HDR by flickr user Andrew Thomas. All rights reserved. Used by permission.  Andrew writes:
“In this photo, the detailed structure of the solar corona and reflected Earthshine illuminating the surface of the Moon is revealed in this HDR composite of images taken at different exposure lengths. Regulus, the brightest star in Leo, is visible to the far left …”.
Imaged with Tele Vue-76mm APO refractor with Nikon D7100 DSLR camera riding on an iOptron iEQ45 Pro mount. Capture software was Eclipse Orchestrator v3.7. 4 sets of exposures at 1/1600, 1/400, 1/100, 1/25, 1/6, 1/3, and 6/10 sec @ ISO 200, stacked to reduce noise and enhance detail. Location: Madras, Oregon.

Andrew gave us permission to re-post these photos on our blog.

I’m glad you enjoy the images I’ve been able to capture with the Tele Vue-76. It’s a wonderful scope for both visual use and imaging. I don’t think I’ll ever give it up

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Jupiter Opposition June 2019!

Solar System (Jupiter) by flickr user Eugene Beygin. All rights reserved. Here Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is facing Earth with the four Galilean satellites (labeled) on either side of the giant planet. Taken through Celestron C6-N Newtonian (6″, f/5) with Tele Vue 3x Barlow through QHY5III224 color CMOS planetary camera and tracked by Celestron AVX mount.
On June 10th, Jupiter was closest to the Earth and rose at sunset — placing it in the sky all night long. The timing makes it well placed for observation throughout much of the summer. Currently, the planet is at its best for the year, at magnitude -2.6 with an angular diameter of 46-arc-seconds. It will “fade” slightly to a still very bright magnitude -2.1  and shrink to 36-arcseconds by the start of fall, where it will be in the west at sunset, setting just a few hours later. So, now is prime-time to view and image this gas giant planet, its famous Great Red Spot (GRS), and attendant giant moons.

Don’t Miss the Lunar Eclipse & Jupiter / Venus Conjunction!

(Left) Blue Moon Eclipse by AstroBin user Joe Beyer. Copyright Joe Beyer. Used by permission. (Right) January 2019 Jupiter and Venus conjunction.
Sky watchers are in for a double-treat with lunar and planetary events on the schedule in the next few days. Brilliant Jupiter and Venus dazzle in the morning as the planets approach conjunction. Sunday night in the Americas will be dominated by the total lunar eclipse. 
 

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Jupiter Opposition & Mercury Tangles with Uranus!

Jupiter with Ganymede just before opposition by flickr user Szabolcs Nagy. All rights reserved. Used by permission. “I’ve used 10 videos, stacked them and derotated them in WinJupos. About 15 mins worth of imaging squeezed into one photo. The GRS looks majestic as always :)”
Jupiter will rise at sunset on May 9th. At magnitude -2.5 it will be an unmistakable sight: the brightest celestial object on the eastern horizon. It will also be closest to the Earth for the year.
 
A few days later, Mercury and Uranus draw nearer before sunrise. Mercury will be brilliant on the horizon, but northern observers will be challenged in finding Uranus in the gathering twilight. 

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Jupiter & Venus Conjunction – Nov. 13, 2017

Morning planets group together in mid-November.

Early risers will note that Jupiter & Venus have been approaching each other in the deep-morning twilight of the eastern sky. Jupiter ascends ever higher each morning while Venus settles lower onto the horizon. The two worlds cross paths on the morning of November 13th when they will be about a half-moon width apart.  Continue reading “Jupiter & Venus Conjunction – Nov. 13, 2017”