Jupiter Observing Program

Jupiter Observing Program Coordinator:

Aaron Clevenson
19411 Cluster Oaks Drive
Humble, TX, 77346-2918
(281) 852-4667
E-mail: aaron@clevenson.org

 

Introduction

Welcome to the Jupiter Observing Program of the Astronomical League. Participation in this program will enhance your observing skills, and upon its completion you will have contributed scientific observations which will be available to those who can use them for scientific analysis. Jupiter's ever changing face is fascinating to observe, and the sense of personal accomplishment in observing it can be great.

Approximately every 13 months we are treated to a Jupiter apparition.  This is the time it takes for the Earth to complete an orbit (1 Earth year) and then also time to catch up to Jupiter as is progresses in its orbit (1/12 of 12 years).

Just as other outer planets are largest when they are at opposition, this is true  as well for Jupiter.  The most noticable features are the dark bands and the great red spot.  But close inspection often reveals many for fine details in the bands. The Galilean Moons are also fascinating object to observe.

This Observing Program highlights many of the details that can be seen and calculated by carfeul observing of Jupiter and its moons.

Background Information

Oppositions of Jupiter:

These are oppositions of Jupiter and the constellations that Jupiter will be in for each one:

  1. August 20, 2021: Aquarius
  2. September 26, 2022: Pisces
  3. November 1, 2023: Aries
  4. December 6, 2024: Taurus
  5. January 9, 2026: Gemini
  6. February 10, 2027: Leo
  7. March 13, 2028: Virgo
  8. April 13, 2029: Virgo
  9. May 14, 2030: Libra
  10. June 16, 2031: Ophiuchus
  11. July 20, 2032: Sagittarius
  12. August 25, 2033: Back in Aquarius
  • The orbital Period for Jupiter is 12 Earth years. This results in Jupiter visiting the different constellations that are along the ecliptic.
  • The rotational period of Jupiter is 9 hours and 56 minutes. This means that features will move significantly during long 

Requirements and Rules

Requirements:

  • There are 75 observations in this Observing Program.
  • The Great Red Spot Observations (20 observations)
    • Do these observations over at least a month's time.
    • Up to two per night, at least an hour apart.
    • Capture as much detail as possible of the Great Red Spot to be able to note changes in its size, shape, and appearance.
    • They contain the most detail if done close to opposition.
    • The objective of this series of observations is to observe and document changes in the size and shape of the Great Red Spot.
  • Rotation Period of Jupiter at the Latitude of the Great Red Spot
    • Part 1:  Limb to Transit, or Transit to Limb (10 observations)
      • Do two sequences of 5 observations each.
      • Sequence may either be from the limb to the meridian or from the meridian to the limb.
      • Capture an observation when the Great Red Spot is crossing the Meridian (Transiting).
      • Capture an observation when the Great Red Spot is on the limb.
      • Assuming this to be 1/4 of the rotation period for the planet for the Great Red Spot, calculate the Rotational Period  (For comparison:  The actual period of the rotation of Jupiter's Great Red Spot is 9 hours and 56 minutes).
    • Part 2:  Near Transit (5 observations)
      • For one transit of the meridian.
      • For the tim period of an hour before to an hour after meridian transit.
      • Based on this data, calculate the rotation rate for the Great Red Spot.
      • Compare to your result for Part 1.
    • The objective of this series of observations is to try to determine the rotation period of Jupiter at the latitude of the Great Red Spot.
  • Orbits of the Galilean Moons (20 observations)
    • Observe on four or five different nights.
    • Do four or five observations each night, at least 30 minutes apart.
    • Plot the location of the moons relative to the planet and show the actual orbits to determine which moon is which from this data.
    • The objective of this series of observations is to try and determine which moons are which.  It may also be possible to determine their orbital periods.
  • Changes in Jupiter's Atmosphere (10 observations)
    • On 10 different nights, make a detailed observation of features of Jupiter's atmosphere.
    • The most detail will be visible close to opposition.
    • The objective of this series of observations is to observnd document changes in markings of Jupiter's atmosphere.
  • Jupiter's TOES (Transits, Occultations, Eclipses, and Shadow Transits between Jupiter and its Galilean Moons.  For the Astronomical League Galileo's TOES certification, click here.) (10 observations)
    • Transit
      • Observe and note the time of the start of a transit of a moon
      • Observe and note the time when the moon transits Jupiter's meridian
      • Observe and note the time of the end of a transit of a moon
    • Occultation - start, end
      • Observe and note the time of the start of an occultation of a moon
      • Observe and note the time of the end of an occultation of a moon
    • Eclipse - start, end
      • Observe and note the time of the start of an eclipse of a moon
      • Observe and note the time of the end of an eclipse of a moon
    • Shadow Transit - start, transit, end
      • Observe and note the time of the start of a shadow transit of a moon
      • Observe and note the time when the moon's shadow transits Jupiter's meridian
      • Observe and note the time of the end of a shadow transit of a moon
  • Optional Special Challenge:  Observe Jupiter's moons naked-eye.  The Astronomical League would like to know which ones you can see and how difficult it is.

Rules:

This certification is available to members of the Astronomical League, either through their local astronomical society or as members at large.  If you are not a member and would like to become one, check with your local astronomical society, search for a local society on the Astronomical League Website (click here), or join as a member at large (click here).

Remote telescopes may be used for this Observing Program as long as the submitter is responsible for directing the telescope.

Participants are required to record their observations, including sketches, on the observing form provided or equivalent. These completed forms should be scanned or copied.  The Observing Forms can be downloaded here in PDF Version, and in Word Version,

Submitting for Certification

After you have competed the required observations they should be scanned or copied.  The copies should be sent to the Coordinator of the Jupiter Observing Program.  Do NOT send the original logs, they will not be returned.  The certificate and pin will be sent once the information is verified.

The submission should include a completed Submission Form - in PDF Version, and in Word Version,

Jupiter Observing Program Coordinator:

Aaron Clevenson
19411 Cluster Oaks Drive
Humble, TX 77346-2918
(281) 852-4667

E-mail: aaron@clevenson.org

Upon verification of your submission and of your active membership in the Astronomical League, your recognition (certificate, pin, etc.) will be sent to you or to the awards coordinator for your society, as you specified.  Your name will also appear in an upcoming issue of the Reflector magazine and in the Astronomical League’s on-line database.  Congratulations.  Good luck with your next observing challenge.

 

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