Last Saturday, our Westchester Astronomers’ monthly star party included students from Fox Lane School. A mid-deck of clouds moved in from the south obscuring the sky so only Jupiter and few bright stars could get through the clouds. My 8-inch dobsonian reflecting telescope had enough light-gathering ability for us to see Jupiter almost all the time and Jupiter’s moons about 1/4 of the time. A magnification of 30 power was just right to give a nice size disk of Jupiter for everyone to see and keep its moons in the eyepiece for several people to see before the Earth’s rotation took the planet out of field.
Since we only focused on one object, the students could rotate through the line, looking at Jupiter itself first and on later visits, Jupiter’s moons when they were available. It was very satisfying was when even the youngest kids could describe the positions of each of the four moons visible that night.
The clouds even acted as a filter, bringing Jupiter’s dazzling light to a level that allowed our guests to pick out Jupiter’s remaining cloud band more easily.
Where to look for Saturn in the sky…
Saturn is rising about sunset – low in the southeast – following Jupiter and ahead of ruddy Mars, both of which are brighter than Saturn. Saturn can be seen without a telescope, it’s about as bright as most of the brightest stars. It will look oblong in binoculars and show that it has rings in spotting scopes and telescopes of 30 power or more.
If you have questions, leave a comment!
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