What’s Up? – May 2018


What’s Up For May?

The Moon and Saturn meet Mars in the morning as our InSight spacecraft launches to the Red Planet on May 5!


You won’t want to miss red Mars in the southern morning skies this month.


InSight, our first mission to explore Mars’ deep interior, launches on May 5th with a launch window that begins at 4:05 a.m. PDT and lasts for two hours.


Some lucky viewers in central and southern California and even parts of the Mexican Pacific coast will get a chance to see the spacecraft launch with their unaided eyes AND its destination, Mars, at the same time.


Mars shines a little brighter than last month, as it approaches opposition on July 27th. That’s when Mars and the Sun will be on opposite sides of the Earth. This will be Mars’ closest approach to Earth since 2003! 


Compare the planet’s increases in brightness with your own eyes between now and July 27th. 


The Eta Aquarid meteor shower will be washed out by the Moon this month, but if you are awake for the InSight launch anyway, have a look. This shower is better viewed from the southern hemisphere, but medium rates of 10 to 30 meteors per hour MAY be seen before dawn.


Of course, you could travel to the South Pacific to see the shower at its best!


There’s no sharp peak to this shower–just several nights with good rates, centered on May 6th. 


Jupiter reaches opposition on May 9th, heralding the best Jupiter-observing season, especially for mid-evening viewing. That’s because the king of the planets rises at sunset and sets at dawn. 


Wait a few hours after sunset, when Jupiter is higher in the sky, for the best views. If you viewed Jupiter last month, expect the view to be even better this month!

Watch the full What’s Up for May Video: 

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2018 April 7 Painting with Jupiter Image Credit: NASA,…

2018 April 7

Painting with Jupiter
Image Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, SwRI, MSSS; Processing: Rick Lundh

Explanation: Brush strokes of Jupiter’s signature atmospheric bands and vortices form this planetary post-impressionist work of art. The creative image uses actual data from the Juno spacecraft’s JunoCam. To paint on the digital canvas, a image with light and dark tones was chosen for processing and an oil-painting software filter applied. The image data was captured during perijove 10, Juno’s December 16, 2017 close encounter with the solar system’s ruling gas giant. At the time the spacecraft was cruising about 13,000 kilometers above northern Jovian cloud tops.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap180407.html

Intricate Clouds of Jupiter

NASA – JUNO Mission logo.

April 6, 2018

See intricate cloud patterns in the northern hemisphere of Jupiter in this new view taken by NASA’s Juno spacecraft.

The color-enhanced image was taken on April 1 at 2:32 a.m. PST (5:32 a.m. EST), as Juno performed its twelfth close flyby of Jupiter. At the time the image was taken, the spacecraft was about 7,659 miles (12,326 kilometers) from the tops of the clouds of the planet at a northern latitude of 50.2 degrees.

Citizen scientist Kevin M. Gill processed this image using data from the JunoCam imager.

JunoCam’s raw images are available for the public to peruse and process into image products at: http://www.missionjuno.swri.edu/junocam

More information about Juno is at: https://www.nasa.gov/juno and http://missionjuno.swri.edu

Image, Text, Credits: NASA/Tony Greicius/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill.

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