If you got a new telescope under the tree this Christmas then there are plenty of planetary targets you can try hunting down thru the New Years Weekend and the following week. The easiest by far will be Jupiter. It shines as the brightest starlike object in the high southern sky just after local nightfall. Even the smallest of telescope will show off its cloud bands and four main moons. Even a pair of those newly gifted binoculars will show these moons off too, but just make sure you have a sturdy tripod mount holding it or if you don’t have one handy, prop yourself up against a ledge or wall so you minimize any shaking. You will be amazed at how much more detail you can see if you do that. Venus
Venus will be the next easiest target for newbie telescope users. Through high power magnification you will notice that Venus now looks not like full round disk but more like a mini version of the waxing gibbous moon.
And for those early bird skywatchers willing to take their scopes out in the cold winter morning – you get chance to see tiny Mercury, the rings of Saturn and the red coloured disk of Mars- all bunched up in a diagonal lineup starting low down in the southeast at dawn.
Sounds interesting? Then check out all the details in my National Geographic observers’ guide with starcharts
Posted in Planets, Solar System, Stargazing | 1 Comment »