Hi everyone, it seems like we haven't sent many email updates lately.
Our team has been out on the sidewalk with telescopes, tho' and we look
forward to more sidewalk astronomy in 2010! Mars Opposition is coming
up at the end of January - that is when Mars is as big and as close as
it will get this time around the sun. (Hint - it will not be that big
and not that close, but is still awesome to view!)
In the meantime, tonight there is a ISS pass at 5:25 pm tonight (that's
the LA area Pacific time zone) from the WSW going to the NE. It will
reach an altitude of 46 degrees above the horizon (halfway to overhead).
Note where in the sky Jupiter is at the time - it is in the SW, and the
ISS will be to the west of Jupiter. Click on today's date on this link
for a star chart. http://is.gd/5SAXO
And speaking of Jupiter, 400 years ago tonight, Galileo looked up in the
sky near the constellation Orion and aimed his telescope at Jupiter.
Jupiter was known to the ancients as a wandering star, but when Galileo
aimed his small telescope at it, he saw not only the known "starry
wanderer" but 3, then a few days later, 4 little objects orbiting the
planet! That discovery changed history, and certainly is the beginning
of the age of modern astronomy. go out and even with binoculars you may
be able to see the little moons - 2 on either side of the planet.
I should thank Galileo by looking up at Jupiter tonight. Because of his
observation, 400 years later I get to write blogs about Jupiter and
Tweet about Saturn in my job!! And speaking of my job, here is my
special JPL blog entry for today - it's on the JPL website.
And then, after you look at the ISS look to the southwest at Jupiter,
and tip your glass of Chianti to Galileo. With binoculars, you may see
the 4 little moons - two on each side of Jupiter tonight. You'll be
recreating a view that startled and amazed Galileo 400 years ago tonight!
Clear skies to everyone in 2010!
PS my solstice blog, and Clarissa our cat's own blog are here if you
need some silly reading material:
Jane Houston Jones
Old Town Astronomers: http://www.otastro.org
My NASA JPL What's Up podcast: http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/news/whatsup.cfm
Twitter: http://twitter.com/jhjones http://twitter.com/CassiniSaturn