[AZ-Observing] Occultation of Jupiter

  • From: "Stanley A. Gorodenski" <stan_gorodenski@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: AZ-Observing <az-observing@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 05 Dec 2004 21:42:14 -0800

For those of you not subscribed and who don't know . . .

This Is SKY & TELESCOPE's AstroAlert for Occultations

     This is a reminder about the spectacular occultation of Jupiter
by the 26% sunlit waning crescent Moon that will occur early Tuesday
morning, December 7th, visible from most of North America west of
the Rocky Mountains.  A good overview of the occultation is at
http://www.skyandtelescope.com (click on "Observing Highlights" on the
left to get to "A Late-Night Jupiter Occultation") with maps showing
the times and circumstances of the event, and a view of the Moon with
the path of Jupiter behind it for several major cities.  Details of
the occultation, with local predictions for hundreds of locations and
details of the southern-limit grazing (actually, partial) occultation
across Texas (San Antonio and s. of Houston) and the Florida Keys, are
on the main IOTA Web site at http://www.lunar-occultations.com/iota .
Note that the reappearance of the 6.5-mag. star ZC 1850 will occur
during the Jupiter occultation for many locations; predictions for it
are also given on the above Web site.

     A lunar occultation of a bright planet by a crescent Moon
is a rare event, especially when considering weather, etc.
What can be done during a lunar occultation of Jupiter?
I think little, if anything, of scientific value, but the event,
especially the dark-side reappearance, will be easy to see naked-eye,
weather permitting, so it is a good educational event, to teach your
friends and colleagues about occultations, and show them an
interesting astronomical event.

     Now that sensitive video cameras have been purchased and used by
many amateur astronomers, it would be interesting to use them to
record this unusual event; videos could be of educational value, as
well as just interesting.  As far as I know, no lunar occultation of
Jupiter on the dark side of a crescent Moon at night has been video
recorded in either black-and-white or in color with the sensitive
video cameras now available.  It will be neat to record the dark-side
lunar features illuminated by Earthshine for the dark-limb events
involving Jupiter.

     As I see it, two new things can be done:

1.  Observe at the inner edge of the southern partial occultation
zone, to video record the maximum extent of the partial occultation,
and the short reappearance(s) of the southern polar regions of
Jupiter in lunar valleys near the lunar south pole; there may even
be some value in this, since no graze observations are known within
0.3 deg. of librations for this graze.
     Harold Povenmire is leading the effort to observe the Jupiter
graze near Marathon, FL.  His phone, in Indian Harbour Beach, near
Melbourne, is 321-777-1303; his cell phone is 321-544-5658.  He
plans to observe somewhere near US 1 and Coco Plum Dr., and as
I remember, he'll be staying at the Holiday Inn, 13201 Overseas Hwy,
Marathon, FL 33050, toll-free phone 866-270-5110.  Clear Sky Clock
shows that it will be partly cloudy at the time.
     Clear skies are forecast for southern Texas, except for along the
coast - Houston and other areas within about 70 miles of the coast
are expected to be overcast.  The graze zone passes over San Antonio
and south of Houston.  The farther west along the path you can go, the
clearer it will be, but also the Moon's and Jupiter's altitude above
the horizon will be lower.

2.  I think within about 30 deg. of a central occultation, video
record the reappearance of Jupiter with a sensitive camera, like
the Supercircuits PC164C.  In that area, it should be possible to
image the ring of Jupiter for a few seconds before the ball of the
planet reappears and overwhelms it; I think it would be the first
detection of the ring of Jupiter with relatively small telescopes, and
probably the first Earth-based video recording of it.

     The "near-central" total occultation, although visible from a
wide area, is not so easy, since almost the entire astronomically
populated parts of the USA and Canada are expected to be clouded out.
The best area of clear skies is predicted to be the Great Plains, from
North Dakota to Texas (except the coastal areas), but clouds are
expected to linger in eastern Kansas, n.e. Oklahoma, and s.e.
Nebraska.  It will also be clear west to the Rocky Mountains, where
the altitude of the event is quite low.  Another area of clear skies
is expected to be centered over New Brunswick, including much of Nova
Scotia and part of northern Maine.  The event might be seen in partly
cloudy skies in the southeastern USA, over most of Florida, southern
Georgia, and the southern Carolinas.

     Good luck with your observations of this event, wherever you are!
I plan to leave Maryland, since it's predicted to be very cloudy
there.  What I will do will be posted in the early afternoon at
http://iota.jhuapl.edu .

David Dunham, IOTA

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