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Post Info TOPIC: May 2009


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May 2009
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The Jupiter and Neptune conjunction will be observable using large binoculars or a modest telescope.
Around the wee hours of the morning  the pair will converge, and also climb higher into the sky.
At magnitude -2.5 Jupiter will be relatively easy to find, the planet is similar in brightness to Delta Capricorni.  In a close up view of the planetary pair, a magnitude 5 star, µ Capricorni, is visible just to the right of Jupiter, and just about half a degree to the north of Jupiter  will be a faint (magnitude 7.9) blue 'star' - Neptune.
The two planets will form a nice isosceles Triangle with the star HIP 108036 (µ Capricorni) at the point.

28th May 2009, 3:33:34 BST

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In small telescopes, a low magnitude (30-40 x ), should be sufficient to observe  Jupiter and its four moons, Neptune, and HIP 108036.

-- Edited by Blobrana on Wednesday 27th of May 2009 06:30:12 PM

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Tomorrow morning sky-watchers will be able to use Jupiter as a guiding light to help them catch a glimpse of the most distant planet in the solar system.
Never less than 4.3 billion kilometres from Earth, the gas giant Neptune is too far-flung to be visible to the naked eye.
But tomorrow morning viewers worldwide will see Neptune and Jupiter in conjunction, or seemingly close together in the sky.

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Watch out for a very thin crescent Moon this evening, just after the Sun sets.
The moon will only around 30 hours old.

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THIS WEEK: It's tough for an amateur astronomer like myself, armed only with backyard equipment, to keep up with outer planets Uranus and Neptune, and ex-planet Pluto is a downright impossibility. But this week early risers get an excellent opportunity to spot Neptune, provided they use a telescope or very strong binoculars.
Neptune and Uranus usually can only be spotted easily when paired with a brighter object. From Monday until Friday before dawn, Neptune hitches a ride with Jupiter, travelling about half a moon's width above it in the sky.

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Only Saturn is easily visible in the evening hours. Look for it just below Leo, high in the southwest after it gets dark. Jupiter rises about 1 a.m., and Venus rises about 4 a.m., with much-dimmer Mars below Venus. Mercury is out of sight for now.

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During May, June and on into early July, watchers of the predawn sky will notice an interesting "double planet" low in the east: brilliant Venus closely accompanied by reddish 1st-magnitude Mars.
The scene has already started playing out. On May 1, Mars was positioned 5 degrees to the lower left of Venus, the two rising roughly 90 minutes before the sun. (Your fist on an outstretched arm covers about 10 degrees of sky.) The two planets have been slowly separating ever since, becoming as much as 6.6 degrees apart May 16.

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If you yet haven't done so, now is the time to get a look at Saturn and its rings through a telescope. In August, the rings will disappear for a while.
You can find Saturn now high in the south at dusk, about 15-degrees to the east of the star Regulus, the brightest star of Leo, the Lion.
Fading slightly from magnitude 0.7 to 0.9, Saturn still outshines Regulus.

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Another sure sign of spring shines high in the south on May evenings. Arcturus, the second brightest star in northern skies, is known as an orange giant. Its about 25 times the diameter of our sun and shines about 215 times brighter. Fairly soon, at least astronomically speaking, this stellar brute will be no more. Arcturus is in the last stages of its life but at least it will go out with a bang. The star eventually will blow off its shell and transform itself into an expanding ring of glowing gases called a planetary nebula.

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