Adrian Dening's Stars Over Somerset

    Monday 19th to Sunday 25th July 2021

    Saturday 24th sees a Full Moon. You'll need to be looking towards the south east and the Moon will have risen above the horizon from 11pm. At the same time, Saturn will be located slightly above the Moon, with Jupiter a little to the left.

    The gas giant planets in our Solar System look like very bright stars because they are relatively close to us and they reflect light from our own Sun, which is a very powerful source. Stars always appear fainter because they are much further away from us and are generating their own light.

    If you stay up until 1am and aim your telescope towards Jupiter, there is an excellent chance to observe the famous Red Spot. This is a huge storm in Jupiter's atmosphere, about twice the size of the Earth, with wind speeds up to 425 miles per hour. The storm has lasted for at least 150 years.

    Very often you will not see the spot as Jupiter rotates very fast on its axis and where a day on Earth lasts 24 hours, on Jupiter it is only 10 hours long. If you can't see the Red Spot, it will be because at the time you are looking, it is round the other side of the planet!

    There are several good opportunities to observe the International Space Station next week. Monday 19th from 11.36pm, Tuesday 20th at 10.49pm and Wednesday 21st from 10pm. The ISS will appear in the west and spend about 7 minutes passing overhead, before disappearing to the east.

    Screenshot courtesy of Stellarium
    Copyright Adrian Dening and Radio Ninesprings 2021

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