Jupiter & Saturn at Opposition!
If you have been looking up recently, you probably noticed that two planets have been very bright for the last month, Jupiter and Saturn! July will be the best month to observe these gas giants because they will be at their closest and brightest, opposition!
July 14th, Jupiter will rise in the eastern sky a few hours after sunset. The planet will be visible all night to the naked eye. Get out your telescope and you should be able to see cloud bands in the gas giant's atmosphere, as well as its four largest moons (Ganymede, Callisto, Europa and Io). The moons will appear as tiny, bright dots that change position every few hours or days.
July 20th the Earth overtakes Saturn in our race around the sun. The planet will appear at opposition, and visible all night. Saturn will be angled to show its northern hemisphere at this opposition, and the rings will be inclined at an angle of 21° to our line of sight, which is almost the maximum inclination they can have. Very well presented for observers.
Saturn is such a treat because its stunning rings offer a unique 3 dimensional observing experience. Next time you observe the planet be sure to look for some of these 3D features pictured below. The shadow on the rings, equatorial bands, and the Cassini division. Saturn is a small object, the disc representing 1/6 the size of Jupiter. Over-magnification causes blurriness making the planet an excellent test of your atmospheric conditions and optics quality.
Opposition is the best time of year for observing because the planets are up all night and have the closest proximity to Earth. We recommend being patient and using a high quality 4 inch or larger scope.
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Low cost, large diameter, and fast focal ratio of the Sky-Watcher Dobsonians On Sale Now! Starting at $285.