Sky Watch: Jupiter and its whirling moons are the highlight of the heavens
There is a brilliant bright illumination of the heavens on these warm nights of late spring. This is Jupiter, the big guy in the solar system.
Undoubtedly, this is by far the largest planet, overwriting any other star or light planet. Only the moon is brighter, but its absence in the evening sky is Jupiter shine King. The reason is so bright it is double. First, Earth and Jupiter are relatively close to each other, separated by less than 437 million miles. At the end of last month, they were separated by less than 420 million miles, meeting their closest in 2017, in what astronomers call “opposition.” The second reason Jupiter is extremely dazzling is that Jupiter is a monster of a planet. It has 88,000 miles in diameter – more than 10 times the diameter of the Earth. In fact, if Jupiter was a hollow sphere, it could attract more than 1300 plots inside!
With a small telescope or even a pair of decent binoculars, you can solve the planet’s disk and maybe even see some of its cloud bands, especially the two dark ones on either side of the equator. What catches the eye, is up to four small stellar objects that accompany Jupiter. They are left or right of Jupiter and are moving steadily from night to night. These are the four brightest and largest moons of Jupiter that obey orbital Jupiter in periods of two to 17 days, all 1.2 million miles of the planet Jupiter.
The moons Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto are constantly changing the position relative to Jupiter and the other, and every night they are seen, they organize of different form. Some nights they can not see the four, because one or more moons of Jupiter hide behind temporarily or pass through it, camouflaged by the bright clouds of Jupiter. What looks really great is when one of the moons is actually a close member of Jupiter and, for several hours, you can see it escaping from behind or in front of the planet. With a telescope of medium to large size, you can sometimes see the shadow of the moon crosses in front of Jupiter. It’s just a little black spot, and this can be hard to see. To locate more easily, try this tip: When using a telescope, look at continuous stretches of at least 10 minutes to get accustomed to the levels of light entering the eye. The quick glances do not reduce most of the time, especially with the planets.
There are many good sources on the internet that update with nightly arrangement on night moons. Which I use is “shallow” skies to shallowsky.com/jupiter.
One of the best applications to monitor the moons of Jupiter called Sky and Telescope JupiterMoons Media LLC.
The four brightest moons of Jupiter are called the Galilean satellites. They were named after the great astronomer Galileo, who first saw them in 1610 with their crude telescope and concluded their position changes overnight at night that were orbiting Jupiter. These observations are used to help defend their cause that Earth and other planets like Jupiter were in orbit around the Sun and not Earth, which was considered at the time. Unfortunately for him, he was not able to persuade the Catholic Church or the government of his theory, and was placed under house arrest.
The Galilean moons Io and Europa are two of the most interesting bodies of our solar system. Io, the moon closest to Jupiter, has a constant volcanic activity due to the strong gravitational tides caused by Jupiter. The 2200-mile moon, as large as Earth’s moon, is under constant torture when it is pulled and stretched. This generates internal heat and a molten core, causing hundreds of volcanic eruptions. Due to all these eruptions, Io has an atmosphere of sulfur dioxide, which freezes and collapses when Jupiter blocks the small moon of light and the heat of our sun.