You can see
what Galileo saw.|
of Mark's Amateur Astronomy Pictures
binoculars. . .
Many of those bright points of light that we call "stars" are not stars at all. Some are planets, many are distant galaxies, and others are clouds of gas and dust called nebulae (plural for nebula). When this picture was posted in March of 2004, it was an especially good time to see Jupiter. October and November of 2011 provide another great opportunity to see the gas giant. With a telescope you can clearly see Jupiter and some of its moons, which were discovered by Galileo in 1610. In spring of 2004 Jupiter was often the brightest object in the eastern night sky. That's the case again this fall (2011), and if you don't have a telescope you don't need to miss out . . . Jupiter and some of its moons are easily visible with a quality pair of binoculars. The moons don't look as big as they are in the image on the right, but you can seen them
CLICK HERE to find out what you can see.
Why October and November 2011? . . .
On October 29, 2011 the planet Jupiter will be lined up with the Earth and the Sun (Sun, Earth, Jupiter). Because it will be opposite the sun, astronomers say that Jupiter is in "opposition" to the Sun. As a result, Jupiter is visible all night, rising
in the east as the Sun went down, and then setting in the west as the Sun came up the next morning. On the other hand, when the Earth and Jupiter are on different sides of the Sun, Jupiter cannot be seen for months.
To find our where the planets are in relationship to the Sun (and each other), CLICK HERE, set the "size" at 800, and then select "update".
Galileo rocked the boat . . .
Upon hearing at age 40 that a Dutch optician
had invented a glass that made distant
objects appear larger, Galileo crafted a
telescope and began to look at the heavens.
Although it is now known that Jupiter has over
60 moons, Galileo was the first to report
seeing the four larger
ones (shown in above photo) in 1610. This,
with other discoveries made by Galileo,
revolutionized astronomy and challenged
some of the religious and philosophical views
of the time. His discovery that Jupiter is
orbited by moons contradicted the geocentric
theory, which held that the Earth was the only
center of motion in the universe. With his
Galileo also found that Venus went through
phases like our Moon; a phenomenon that
could not be explained in terms of an
Earth-centered system. Furthermore, his
discovery of sunspots showed that it had
"blemishes," countering the Aristotelian view
the Sun was perfect. In his old age Galileo
was forced by The Inquisition to recant his belief
in the Copernican (heliocentric) Theory that
the planets orbit around the Sun.
Term: The Inquisition, heretic (Define one of these in your own words!)