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Updated: September 20, 2010 21:04 IST

Double celestial treat for sky gazers on Tuesday

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An image of Jupiter and its volcanic moon Io. Both Jupiter and Uranus will be visible very clearly on Tuesday. File photo
An image of Jupiter and its volcanic moon Io. Both Jupiter and Uranus will be visible very clearly on Tuesday. File photo

A double celestial treat awaits astro-enthusiasts tomorrow with Sun, Earth and Jupiter making a straight line in the sky and Uranus appearing brighter and bigger.

“On September 21, the king planet Jupiter will be opposite the Sun which will be 180 degrees from it,” SPACE Director C. B. Devgun said.

Jupiter will rise opposite the Sun at sunset, touch its peak at midnight and set at sunrise, he said.

When the Jovian planet will be at or near opposition, Earth comes closest to it and the biggest planet will shine brightly in the sky.

The Jupiter will be glowing at 2.9 magnitude.

Sky gazers can see Sun, Earth and Jupiter make a straight line in the sky, Mr. Devgun said.

The exact time of Jupiter’s opposition is 17:07 PM, while it will be 3.954 AU Astronomical Units (AU) from the Earth.

Jupiter oppositions occur every 13 months (398.9 days). Last opposition occurred on August 14, 2009, and the next will happen on October 29, 2011.

Also, in store is the opposition of Uranus which will appear brighter and bigger in the night. The green blue planet will look like a tiny, pale-green disk. It is much smaller than Jupiter.

Uranus, which will be in constellation of Pisces, will be at its opposition at 22:29 PM and shine with a magnitude of 5.7.

Named after the Greek deity, Uranus is a gas giant which can be seen using a telescope in normal days. But to see the planet tomorrow night, you just need to look towards the eastern horizon with a pair of binoculars.

Uranus, the third largest in the Solar System, contains mostly rock and water, with hydrogen and helium (and trace amounts of methane) in its dense atmosphere. Uranus gets its blue-green color from methane gas.

It was the first planet of the Solar System that was discovered with a telescope. William Herschel first observed it on March 13, 1781.


Did Jupiter, Saturn play pinball with Uranus?September 18, 2010

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