Step outside tonight after sunset and you'll see brilliant Jupiter
hanging low in the western sky. If it happens to be a little after 8
p.m. you may spot the International Space Station from about 8:04 to
8:10 as it passes from SW (near Jupiter) to overhead to NE.
Step outside in the morning a little before dawn over the next few
days and you may see three additional planets -- Mercury, Venus and
Saturn -- plus a lovely crescent moon . Here is a little feature and
graphic I put together this week about observing the morning planets.
Want to see the rest of the solar system? On Saturday (tomorrow, Aug
19th) at sunset until Sunday at dawn, we'll be at our current
favorite observing spot near the community of Desert Center
Our favorite spot is
a bit of a trek --150 miles from our home in Monrovia -- but the
desert landscape is beautiful and the skies are nice and dark. You
can see pictures of the location here:
<http://www.otastro.org/2006-04-01-messier/> Our spot is on BLM land,
just two miles off I-10. But no water or toilets. We are bringing
Beginning at 7:30 p.m., we'll be on the lookout for Mars, which will
be a difficult target as it sets soon after sunset. Jupiter is next
and is easy to spot. Neptune, Uranus and Pluto will be our evening
targets. Then there will be many hours to enjoy the summer milky way,
or take a snooze and wake up before dawn to observe Mercury, Venus
and hopefully, Saturn. Did I leave one out? Earth! I think you all
can find that one.
If you are interested in joining us, send an email to
mojane(a)whiteoaks.com before 2 p.m. Saturday for a map and our cell
phone number to contact us on the way. We'll select some other dark
sky observing spots that are not such a long drive in the future, but
this spot has the sunset and sunrise horizons required to try a "9
Planet night". To read more about "what is a planet" read this
definitions may be changing as soon as next week!
A note of caution: It will be hot (100's) during the day, cooling to
the high 70's after 10 p.m. We plan to stay all night, but we will
not set up a tent, and will probably leave at sunrise, before it gets
hot again. If you are interested in joining us for this nine planet
project, you should arrive no later than 7 p.m. We'll probably leave
Monrovia around 3:30 to 4 p.m. with a halfway stop in Banning for
Coffee and Subway sandwiches if you want to follow us. Bring your own
water, and we recommend some salty snacks or fitness beverages like
Gatorade to help with the heat.
Our next sidewalk astronomy dates will be Sept 1 Pasadena, September
2 Monrovia. We'll be viewing the moon and one planet: Jupiter.
Jane Houston Jones
Senior Outreach Specialist, Cassini Program
JPL - 4800 Oak Grove Drive, MS 230-205
Pasadena, CA 91109 818-393-6435
Cassini Saturn Observation Campaign