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Which planets in view after Saturn and Jupiter?

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#1 Roosto

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 08:30 AM

Is the Summer sky as interesting as when Saturn and Jupiter are in view?

#2 Tony Flanders

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 08:58 AM

Is the Summer sky as interesting as when Saturn and Jupiter are in view?


Jupiter and Saturn are the only really interesting planets anyway -- except for the few months every 2+ years when Mars in nearby. 2013 isn't one of those years.

Venus and Mercury are worth the odd glance to check on their sizes and phases, but it's exceedingly difficult to see details on either one.

Uranus and Neptune are charming, but once you've found them there's not much more to see.

Saturn will be well placed for viewing well into the summer; don't be too quick to give up on it. But the real glory of the summer sky is the Milky Way and all the splendid nebulas and clusters embedded in it.

#3 steveyo

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 09:08 AM

I love seeing Uranus and Neptune - nice aqua-blue dots. With decent magnification, Uranus is actually a small disc, and almost 2 billion miles away! It always makes me smile.

Though I've tried a couple times and never seen it (maybe once with averted imagination), Neptune's giant moon Triton is sometimes discernable as a bright blip beside the planet with good enough seeing and magnification.

As Mr. Flanders said, however, neither of these remote blue gas giants gives up any surface detail to the backyard astronomer.

#4 mich_al

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 09:41 AM

I had a lot of fun this Summer finding dwarf Planet Pluto. It was quite a challenge. I could only see it one night and the next night, even though I knew exactly where it was, I could not see it. Many night before and many after there was no luck.

#5 MikeBOKC

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 10:12 AM

Summer is a time to venture beyond planets. Tons of stuff down in Saggitarius, great globular clusters, M57 and some fine galaxies.

#6 Roosto

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 11:48 AM

I had a lot of fun this Summer finding dwarf Planet Pluto. It was quite a challenge. I could only see it one night and the next night, even though I knew exactly where it was, I could not see it. Many night before and many after there was no luck.


You found and saw Pluto? That's amazing. What kind of telescope do you have?

#7 Roosto

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 12:00 PM

Jupiter is beginning to leave the night sky. When will Saturn begin to leave the night sky? I'm going to miss those planets...

#8 mich_al

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 01:51 PM

I had a lot of fun this Summer finding dwarf Planet Pluto. It was quite a challenge. I could only see it one night and the next night, even though I knew exactly where it was, I could not see it. Many night before and many after there was no luck.



You found and saw Pluto? That's amazing. What kind of telescope do you have?



Ooops, I meant Fall/Winter, the season that just passed, not Summer.
10" Dall-Kirkham and Pluto was right on the ragged edge of visible. From memory I'm guessing it was less than mag 13.5 maybe 14 or less. I'm betting it was Pluto because of its position relative to that days finder chart.

#9 sg6

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 03:22 PM

To an extent there are sort of 3 planets worth observing, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars.

Venus is 100% cloud covered so all you get is sun light off the top of the cloud.

Neptune and Uranus are so small they in effect appear as small star like objects of blueish and greenish colour. That assumes that you have a scope big enough to see them at all.

If I recall you are in the California area, south ? Depends on how far south as to what other objects can be seen. But to my mind there is not a lot of planets that are generally visible at any time.

#10 Tony Flanders

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 04:49 PM

Neptune and Uranus are so small they in effect appear as small star like objects of blueish and greenish colour. That assumes that you have a scope big enough to see them at all.


Any normal telescope will show both planets; in fact they're visible in 7x35 binoculars. And Uranus is fairly easy to see naked-eye in a dark sky.

You do need a fair amount of magnification to see them as anything other than simple points of light, though. Perhaps 100X for Uranus and more for Neptune. See skypub.com/urnep for finder charts and more information.

But to my mind there are not a lot of planets that are generally visible at any time.


Just seven, not counting Earth. That definitely limits your options!

Venus and Mercury will have a great pairing from late May to mid-June; see skypub.com/may2013planets. Saturn is having a rather low apparition, but it will be reasonably well placed in late twilight until the end of July, and visible well into September.

Jupiter will return to the morning sky by July (though how many people want to rise before dawn then?) and will be in the evening sky by next fall.

#11 Kraus

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 05:49 PM


All night skies are interesting. It's for what we amateur astronomers strive.

Last Spring, I was watching Mars. I could easily see the dark spike thingy. About an hour into my viewing, it disappeared to pink. I think I actually saw a dust storm pull through. I was awed.

#12 UncleMossy

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 09:27 PM

Jupiter is getting closer to Saturn at about 20 degrees per year.
Saturn is about 10 degrees further east on the ecliptic year to year while Jupiter moves about 30 degrees.
Over the next number of summers they will creep towards each other until 2020 when Jupiter passes Saturn.
That summer they will be separated by 8 degrees and in December they pass within 8 arc minutes of each other.
That's a third of the width of the moon, should be good.

Cheers
Jim

#13 Cotts

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Posted 13 April 2013 - 07:20 PM

Sadly, Saturn is moving further and further south and won't be north of the celestial equator for a loooong time... ---2026 +/-

Those of us lurking in mid northern latitudes will have to wait half a generation before we get Saturn at decent elevation above the horizon.....

Dave

#14 Qwickdraw

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Posted 14 April 2013 - 07:39 AM

I had a lot of fun this Summer finding dwarf Planet Pluto. It was quite a challenge. I could only see it one night and the next night, even though I knew exactly where it was, I could not see it. Many night before and many after there was no luck.



You found and saw Pluto? That's amazing. What kind of telescope do you have?



Ooops, I meant Fall/Winter, the season that just passed, not Summer.
10" Dall-Kirkham and Pluto was right on the ragged edge of visible. From memory I'm guessing it was less than mag 13.5 maybe 14 or less. I'm betting it was Pluto because of its position relative to that days finder chart.


Al,
That is how I found it about 15 years ago in a Meade 8" 826 dob. Finder chart from astronomy mag and Plutos position that night compared to the chart. If I remember correctly it took me about two hours of hopping and confirming before I was dead sure it was Pluto.

#15 Starman1

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Posted 14 April 2013 - 10:01 PM

In truly dark skies, Pluto is visible in 4-6" scopes, but to identify which of those extremely faint stars is Pluto, you will need to know the field, draw what you see, and try a few nights later to see what's moved. Alas, Pluto is in northern Sagittarius, so be prepared to plot a LOT of stars. It will be easier in a decade or two, when Pluto has pulled away from the Milky Way.

#16 Qwickdraw

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 05:45 AM

In truly dark skies, Pluto is visible in 4-6" scopes,


I guess a 14" scope is out of the question than? :grin:

#17 Tony Flanders

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 06:10 AM

In truly dark skies, Pluto is visible in 4-6" scopes.


I wonder if it's still visible in 4-inch scopes -- at least from mid-northern latitudes. Lots of people reported seeing it in 4-inch scopes 15 or 20 years ago, but Pluto has become significantly fainter since then, as it moves away from the Sun. It is also very far south of the celestial equator now. I had trouble spotting it in my 12.5-inch Dob last year, under semi-dark skies.

#18 Starman1

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 09:45 AM

Tony,
Pluto is currently magnitude 14.1 and can be seen, in dark skies*, with 4-6", but some experience at seeing very faint stars will be necessary, and some luck with seeing.
It culminates at an atmospheric thickness of 2, so if the air is transparent that only means 0.15-0.2 magnitudes of extinction.
It might be a 'limit' object for the 4", but not for the 6".
The big problem is identifying it, because the fields it's been traveling through are really heavy with faint stars. That alone makes it hard to 'see'.


*Defined as magnitude 21.0 and darker.

#19 CollinofAlabama

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Posted 18 May 2013 - 07:22 PM

Hmmm. I live at the 33.5 degree latitude, but haven't seen Pluto (not that I've tried). Haven't seen Ceres, Vesta, or any of those easier to catch dwarf planet cats, either, but that's because they'll all appear less impressive than Neptune. Have you seen Neptune in a 4" refractor? Let's just say he's got nothing on Saturn. Shoot, I rate Mercury considerably higher, and I'd put Hermes well below Venus, and all of them, as mentioned, well below the fantastic three of Jupiter, Saturn and Mars, with Mars the fickle, pickiest, and extremely infrequent compared to the annually reliable Jove and Saturday's namesake. But Pluto? Like the OP said ...

"Is the Summer sky as interesting as when Saturn and Jupiter are in view? "

Well, no, of course, but that's not season dependent, since they can exit stage west any old season any old year. This year, yes, both tend to lose their luster in the Summer, Optimus Maximus after a GREAT winter apparition, and Saturn gets awfully low after a GREAT spring and early summer run. Doesn't mean there's nothing to look at in August, of course, just that Saturn will be in the muck, Jupiter lost to those who get up too early or stay up too late, and Mars on its long trek to April 2014. FWIW, Venus will start to get better in August (I know, I know, featureless Venus, but it IS a planet, & quite a bit more dramatic and entertaining than the boring faint specks of Vesta, Ceres or Pluto -- especially in 4" and smaller apertures).

Folks have a good summer, and take a look at M13 if you want to see something great that isn't a planet but is always reliably in the late spring/early summer sky. And if you can get out of town to a dark sky site in any direction other than north (unless it's really far north), Sagittarian spectacles await. And even 3"-ers can provide some pretty nice views of these beauties (like everything, more aperture helps more, but the floor for enjoying these heavenly bodies is rather low).

Good summer, everyone!

#20 Qwickdraw

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 06:47 PM

I had a lot of fun this Summer finding dwarf Planet Pluto. It was quite a challenge. I could only see it one night and the next night, even though I knew exactly where it was, I could not see it. Many night before and many after there was no luck.


With what type of scope could you not see Pluto?

#21 GeneT

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 07:10 PM

Is the Summer sky as interesting as when Saturn and Jupiter are in view?


Jupiter and Saturn are the only really interesting planets anyway -- except for the few months every 2+ years when Mars in nearby. 2013 isn't one of those years.

Venus and Mercury are worth the odd glance to check on their sizes and phases, but it's exceedingly difficult to see details on either one.

Uranus and Neptune are charming, but once you've found them there's not much more to see.

Saturn will be well placed for viewing well into the summer; don't be too quick to give up on it. But the real glory of the summer sky is the Milky Way and all the splendid nebulas and clusters embedded in it.


I pretty much agree with this. Jupiter and Saturn are the only planets in which you can consistently count on seeing surface detail. Mars once in awhile. The rest, you just 'see.'

#22 northernontario

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 08:07 PM

I was thrilled to verify a Pluto observation a few years ago.

It appeared as a very tiny fleck of light in the field of view.

It took several nights and star charts to verify the observation.

Using the star charts, my 8 inch SCT, various EPS, and my eyes and verifying the result made me feel like a real astronomer.

fun stuff.

jake

#23 Illinois

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 07:19 AM

Sadly, Saturn is moving further and further south and won't be north of the celestial equator for a loooong time... ---2026 +/-

Those of us lurking in mid northern latitudes will have to wait half a generation before we get Saturn at decent elevation above the horizon.....

Dave


You should able to see Saturn that low. If you can see M7 and M6 in Scorpius then you should see Saturn. Far south mean the rings are more open!

#24 Illinois

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 07:20 AM

Uranus and Neptune are next! But plenty to see in the sky in summer!

#25 azure1961p

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 10:36 PM

I agree the summer milkyway is a great spectacle. Saturn will still be visible into summer and soon after then come Uranus and Neptune. For these two you preferably want 6" or more in aperture. Neptunes color and challenging size makes it one of my fav planets along with seeing its faint moon Triton. It doesn't have the spectacle of Jupiter or Saturn and you'll likely never see any details but it IS captivating. Uranus is boring to me but I look anyway. Its a deceptive object that can trick some observers into seeing non existent details that could only exist in the infrared or near.

Pete






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