Thursday, August 09, 2012

Occultation of Jupiter, Sunday August 12.

Morning sky on Sunday August 12 looking north-east as seen from Darwin at 4:00 am local time in the Northern Territory. Jupiter is in the Hyades with the Pleiades cluster is close by.  The Moon is just about to cover Jupiter. The right inset shows the telescopic view of Jupiter and the Moon just before Jupiter is covered. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time, except viewers south of Darwin will not see Jupiter covered by the Moon (click to embiggen).

The crescent Moon will occult the planet Jupiter in the early morning hours of August 12 as seen from Darwin. In Australia all other cities and locations south of Darwin will see Jupiter very close (less than half a fingerwidth) to the Moon (it alos missed in Papua New Guinea).

Some places in Indonesia (eg Jakarta) will see the  Jupiter emerge from behind the Moon around 4:40 local time. The Moon covering Jupiter occurs to close to  Moonrise to be seen from these locations.

While this event is easily seen with the unaided eye, binoculars (best mounted on a tripod) or a small telescope will make this a spectacular sight, and you can watch the Moons being occulted as well.

Jupiter will disappear behind the bright limb of the Moon at 4:07 am local time in Darwin, followed by Ganymede. Io and Europa reappear from behind the dark limb at 4:40 am, followed by Jupiter at 4:41, then Callisto and Ganymede (4:47 and 4:51 respectively). Astronomical twilight begins at 5:50 am in Darwin, so it should be sufficiently dark for good viewing.

For the rest of Australia, Jupiter is closest to the Moon at around 5 am local time.

With the Pleiades cluster and the constellation of Orion close by, this is a beautiful morning sight. 

On the morning of the 12th, as well as Jupiter being close to the Moon, Jupiter's satellites play hide and seek with transits of Io and Europa. Well worth a look in even a small telescope.

As the sun rises on the 12th, this is also an excellent time to try and see Jupiter in the daylight, using the crescent Moon as your guide.