Wondering about wild grapes

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Again, wondering about Jupiter and its moons.

I know that I have written about Jupiter a few times in the past but I just can't resist doing it again.  Why, you may ask.  Because it has been the star (take it either way, it looks like a celestial star and could be a movie star) of the night for quite awhile now and will continue to be so for a little longer.  If you go out side after dark and look up, it is the brightest star in the sky.  Sure does give Sirius (the dog star) some competition.  I am not sure which one is the brightest.

I suppose if you live in a very dark area, you may be able to see some of Jupiter's moons with only the naked eye, but for sure you will be able to see them with a good pair of binoculars.  For the best views, a telescope will do the job nicely and it doesn't need to be a huge one.  Of course bigger is always better.  These following pictures (that I borrowed off the internet) show what you would see.  I have seen Jupiter though my telescope many times and it never ceases to amaze me and each time I look at it there is something different, either the planet itself or the location of its moons.  It is not uncommon to see the shadow of one its moons on Jupiter's surface.  (Jupiter does not have a solid surface as we know it, it is a huge ball of gas, so the shadow is projected on Jupiter's cloud tops).  By the way, Jupiter spins really fast.  It rotates once in less than 10 hours and that is spectacular because of its huge size.  It could hold 1266 Earths in its volume.  This fast spin alters its shape from round to wider around its equator than around its poles.

Here is the first picture.  Notice the shadow of one of the moons?

And a view with the moons in a different location:

Now, tonight (if it is clear), go outside and look up.  Jupiter will be straight overhead.

Did you ever notice that on a real clear night the stars twinkle?  Well I have and a couple of them stood out because they didn't twinkle like the rest.  These non twinkling stars are planets.  Planets do not twinkle.  Now don't forget to take a look at the sky every night that it is clear.  You may like it and it may become a habit.  Of course it could give you a pain in the neck (grin).  Now have a great day, you hear?


  1. Best way is to be flat on your back in the yard, on top of a car, or somewhere that you can stretch out!

    Always amazing to look up at night, especially if you are in the country!

  2. If you're ever up in Presque Isle, Maine, be sure to follow the whole solar system... from the sun in Presque Isle, down to Pluto, in Houlton... placed in scale by size and distance between those 40 miles. Even has Jupiters moons and Saturns rings.

  3. Good hint about how to tell the difference between stars and planets.

  4. HJ, you are right about that. In fact, I do my best thinking and best work while flat on my back. . .

    The Old Essay, never heard about that. I would like to see it but probably will never get to Maine. I was there once and stayed in a boat access cabin on a lake back in the summer of 1948. I still remember it wall.

    Sixbears, if it twinkles it ain't a planet. I bet the sky is beautiful when you are out in the ocean on your boat.

  5. Don't know if it's true, but one of those science Tv shows said Jupiter is a star that failed. It didn't light off like our sun for whatever reason. Ignition failure. Always thought that was interesting. Good thing for old earth, I 'd say. Heck, it was 70 degrees with one sun today.

  6. Jim, that is right, it didn't get quite big enough to turn into a star and it had too many impurities. Maybe if it were all hydogen, but who knows. It did get a thermal neclear furnace going in the middle of it.

  7. I learned something new tonight...thanks!