Skip to comments.Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Bright Jupiter in Taurus
Posted on 11/27/2012 3:22:35 AM PST by SunkenCiv
Explanation: That bright star you've recently noticed rising just after sunset isn't a star at all. It's Jupiter, the solar system's ruling gas giant. Bright Jupiter is nearing its December 3rd opposition when it will stand in Taurus, opposite the Sun in planet Earth's sky. Clearly outshining yellowish Aldebaran, alpha star of Taurus, Jupiter is centered in this skyview from November 14th, also featuring the Pleiades and Hyades star clusters, familiar celestial sights as the northern hemisphere winter approaches. Sliding your cursor over the image will label the scene and identify two other solar system worlds approaching their opposition in December. Small and faint, asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres are about 10 degrees from Jupiter, near the left edge of the frame. Of course, you can imagine NASA's Dawn spacecraft in this field of view. Having left Vesta in September, Dawn's ion engine is now steadily driving it to match orbits with Ceres, scheduled to arrive there in February 2015.
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As always happens, mention of the *planet* Jupiter gets me thinking about the kinda crappy rock band Duke Jupiter. However, this image is interesting, showing Jupiter, Aldebaran (in Taurus), the Pleiades, the Hyades, Vesta, and Ceres.
In the summer it rises almost directly East and now as the seasons change 'it moves' South. It's now in the Southeastern sky. And on Aug-Sept mornings it's pretty cool, Venus and the Moon are side-by-side, only a few degrees separating them. (And If I can't see Venus I know the weather will be crappy that day.)
I was going to keep a log with the degrees East it rises each day and the angle at that time of morning I look. Maybe I'll start that next year.
By Jove! Uh... Jupiter! That’s a fine picture, Civ! Thank you, dear.
The bright star almost directly to the left of Jupiter is Zeta Tauri. Chinese records report that a “guest star” appeared near that star on July 4, 1054, and was brighter than Venus, and could be seen in the daylight for 23 days. The Crab Nebula (Messier 1) resulted from the explosion of that supernova.
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