2014 Planet Sighting: Jupiter Visible in the Night Sky, How To Best View

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By Jenalyn Villamarin | March 6, 2014 12:28 PM EST

Sky gazers are currently given a celestial treat with planet Jupiter brightly visible in the night sky even outshining the stars. The planet is currently located in the Gemini constellation, close to the twin bright stars Castor and Pollux, making it easy for the viewers to study its movement against the sparkling background.

According to the Space.com report, viewers in the Northern Hemisphere can spot Jupiter high in the clouds as the skies get dark. The planet can shine brightly throughout the night and sets in the northwest direction at about 3 am EST (0800 GMT).

Binoculars and telescopes are the suggested equipment to be used in viewing Jupiter. While viewing the planet, viewers should be able to notice one of the Jupiter moons with telescopes offering more like the eclipses and transits of the Jupiter moons.

The use of a good telescope can provide an endless viewing on Jupiter's atmosphere. Jupiter has a rapid rotation of once every 10 hours forcing its clouds to form horizontal jet streams that are visible as alternating light and dark bands through telescopes.

Two belts are usually visible but nights with steady skies offer the treat of eight or more belts observable. Another object noticeable in the planet's atmosphere is the gigantic storm identified as the "Great Red Spot."

"This is an oval cyclone about three times the width of the Earth, which has been tracked in Jupiter's atmosphere for three centuries, making it the largest and longest lasting storm in the entire solar system. In order to observe the Great Red Spot, you need to know its current longitude," the Space.com report reads.

To predict the future motion of the Great Red Spot, German amateur astronomer Hans-Jörg Mettig collects and posts on his Web site the ongoing observations on the Great Red Spot's longitude that amateur astronomers conduct to identify its current longitude. Here is the Web site link: http://jupos.privat.t-online.de/rGrs.htm.

Due to Jupiter's rapid rotation, the Great Red Spot can only be visible for approximately three hours and noticed with its orange-red colour usually near to salmon pink. A good quality telescope with at least 150mm aperture is required to spot the Great Red Spot with favorable steady skies. "It gets darker and fades over time, and sometimes is only visible by the gap it leaves in the South Temperate Belt, known as the Red Spot Hollow," the report further noted.

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