A short video guide produced on Friday 6th November but valid for most of November. Covering Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the Milky Way and the bright asterism known as the Summer Triangle.
Jupiter and Saturn can be seen setting low in the SW during early evenings and you might have noticed they’ve been steadily appearing closer together in the sky. This will continue in the weeks ahead, culminating in a great conjunction in the run up to Christmas.
On December 21st, at their closest, they’ll be just 0.1 degrees apart. That’s only 1/5 of a full moon diameter! With the gas giants appearing this close together you’ll be able to view them under high magnification in the same field of view with your telescope.
Few words are needed to describe this incredible video. It was captured by Jan Koer with a Meade 5000 a 3x Barlow and a ToUcam2 video camera.
At the kick off for the new Merkinch Nature Reserve astronomy programme tonight, I got to talk about one of my favourite planets of all time – Saturn and its mind blowing ring system.
The dynamics of the rings are so subtle and complex. Some of the gaps in the rings are made by moonlets clearing paths, whilst other moons are actually replenishing the rings.
The small moon Enceladus is a fascinating example. It’s spewing out frozen ice from its south pole due to tidal heating, effectively generating Saturn’s faint E ring (the faint blue outer ring pictured above).
You could sit on a moonlet of Saturn and watch the rings forming little wavelets in real time around you. Some of the larger rings actually wash back and forth like waves on a giant ocean.
Many of the smaller moonlets orbiting Saturn have a polished or smooth aspect to them. This is due to fine particulates from the rings being drawn towards them due to gravity, effectively power coating the surface and covering over any craters or blemishes. This accretion of material onto the moons has been imaged by Cassini.
We had great turnout for the kickoff. The next event is a Moon special on Nov 7th. Look out for eventbrite links here on on my Facebook page.
I enjoyed a pre equinox wild camp beside Loch Morlich last night. Amazing dark skies with the Milky Way bright enough to be faintly reflected on the loch’s surface.
Saturn and Jupiter shone in the early twilight before ISS made an appearance after 9pm, cutting through the bright band of the Milky Way.
Later still the Moon rose spectrally above the hills looking east, lighting up the loch like a beacon.
Happy equinox when it comes. Official time is Monday 23rd September at 8.50am. Click below for more pictures.