Jupiter stars in the night sky

What's up in the night sky over Oak Bay this March

Jupiter dominates the evening sky this month, rising at sunset and setting at dawn.

On March 8, Jupiter reaches what astronomers call “opposition,” when Jupiter and the sun are on opposite ends of a straight line with Earth in the middle. This brings Jupiter its closest to Earth, so it shines brighter and appears larger in telescopes.

On March 14, 15, 21, 22 and 29, two of Jupiter’s moons will cross the planet’s disk, clearly visible from Cattle Point Star Park. When the planet is at opposition and the sun shines on Jupiter’s moons, we can see the moons’ shadows crossing the planet.

The next six months is a great time to image Jupiter when it’s highest in the sky – near midnight now and a little earlier each night through late summer. Even through the smallest telescopes or binoculars you should be able to see the two prominent belts on each side of Jupiter’s equator, the four Galilean moons: Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, and with some difficulty Jupiter’s Red Spot, when it faces Earth.

NASA’s Juno spacecraft will arrive at Jupiter July 4 this year and go into orbit around the giant planet. Right now the Juno mission  science team seeks amateur and professional images of the planet. These images are uploaded to a Juno website, and the public is invited to discuss points of interest in Jupiter’s atmosphere. The favourites will be targets for JunoCam, the spacecraft’s imaging camera. Once JunoCam has taken the images, they’ll be posted online. Imaging participants can then process these raw mission images and re-upload them for others to view.

I urge the great photographers of Oak Bay to participate and see if we can have one of our photographers recognized.

Now the moon. The moon rises about 50 minutes later each day. It rose just after midnight March 1. By the time it becomes a full moon it will be rising at sunset over Bellingham and setting at sunrise over Metchosin – to make our Salish Walk of the Planets (and Sun and Moon).  At New Moon, it will rise and set with the sun, so from Cattle Point, the full moon always rises over Mount Baker at sunset. This month it will be March 23, so that’s the evening to visit the Cattle Point Dark Sky Urban Star Park. I like to photograph the full moon through Chris Paul’s Salish Sea sculpture at Oak Bay Marina.

Kids and adults: Don’t forget to paint your own “Impression of the Salish Sea.” Find out more about the art contest, auction and show at cattlepoint.org.  The show is at 5 p.m. April 2 during the “Celebration for the Salish Sea” evening at the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre in Sidney, when the centre is rebranded as the Centre for the Salish Sea.

Learn about NASA’s missions nasa.gov, and  JunoCam at missionjuno/swri.edu/junocam. The RASCals of Cattle Point – see facebook.com/groups/VictoriaRASCals/ – meet at Fairfield Community Centre Mondays at 7:30 p.m.

Summary is from the transcript of “What’s Up In March 2016” by NASA announcer and astronomer Jane Houston Jones with specific permission for localization to Cattle Point DARK SKY Urban Star Park and the Oak Bay News.

 

Just Posted

Shaving minutes off commutes among the goals for Victoria bus lanes

Work on southbound Douglas Street lane between Tolmie and Hillside getting underway

Backyard of $2.2M Uplands property bulldozed for BMX jump track

34-year-old financial advisor fulfills childhood dream

VicPD nab distracted driver with expired licence

On the phone while in motion, man had overdue fines from driving while impaired

Gallery: Turnout good for Oak Bay’s inaugural volunteer fare

Oak Bay showcased non-profits and more with inaugural volunteer fair

Vic-Alert faces tidal wave of registration after tsunami warnings

City of Victoria system is free and provides early warnings of disaster

Mature Garry Oak falls on Beach Drive

150-year-old tree blocks access in front of Oak Bay Beach Hotel

Castlegar homicide victim identified

The victim was 38-year-old Jordan Workman of Castlegar, B.C.

B.C. Liberal leadership candidates get one last prime-time pitch

Leadership campaign to be decided in Feb. 3 vote

How high is safe from a tsunami? Four metres above sea level

Be disaster ready with food, water and clothing for seven days

Victoria Film Festival set for triumphant return to the big screen

Two decades on, diverse film lineups keep movie-goers coming to the box office

Victoria’s most wanted for the week of Jan. 23

Crime Stoppers will pay a reward of up to $2,000 for information that leads to arrests or the seizure of property or drug

Andrew Scheer on trade, Trump and Trudeau

Canada’s Conservative leader begins three-day visit to B.C.

Bell Canada alert prompts RCMP, privacy watchdog to probe data breach

Company spokesman: ‘Fewer than 100,000 customers were affected’

Victims restrained, sex toys and cash stolen from B.C. adult store

Armed suspects sought in adult store robbery

Most Read