On Sunday, January 5, the planet Jupiter will arrive at its closest point to Earth of 2014. Appearing larger and more detailed than at any time this year, the giant planet will be the focus of a special all-night live broadcast by Slooh starting at 2:00 PM PST/ 5:00 PM EST/ 22:00 UTC, accompanied by real-time narration provided by Slooh astronomer Bob Berman and technical director Paul Cox. An additional feed from the Prescott Observatory will be provided at 5:30 PM PST/ 8:30 PM EST/ 1:30 UTC (01/6) and will also be accompanied by live commentary from Berman and Prescott Observatory Director Matt Francis.
Also joining the broadcast at 2:00 PM PST/ 5:00 PM EST/ 22:00 UTC will be special guest Dr. Scott
Bolton, the Principal Investigator (PI) for NASA’s Juno Mission to Jupiter. Dr. Bolton has worked in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for over 24 years and has worked in a wide range of capacities in the organization including management, engineering and scientific positions for planetary missions such as Cassini, Galileo, Voyager and Magellan among others. He also has extensive experience managing multiple science investigations on both Cassini and Galileo missions.
The Juno mission, already en route to the giant planet as it currently speeds away from Earth at 11 miles a second, will arrive and start orbiting Jupiter in July of 2016. It will be the first spacecraft to orbit and explore Jupiter since the Galileo spacecraft did so in 1995. Improvements in science technology since then will allow Juno to make unprecedented explorations of the Jovian magnetic field, and is expected to reveal unseen details below its clouds. Slooh covered Juno’s Earth gravity assist maneuver live on October 9, 2013 – you can watch a highlight video of Slooh’s coverage produced by JPL here.
Says Bob Berman, “This is the first Jupiter Opposition since 2012, and it’s also the highest-up Jupiter will become over the skies above the US, Canada, and Europe, until the year 2023. These are ideal
conditions for observing the largest and most detailed planet in the solar system. I’m very excited that Slooh has chosen to observe the planet live throughout the night, allowing it to be seen through more than one complete Jupiter rotation. This will allow colorful features like the famous Great Red Spot to begin the night on its western side, rotate out of view, and then reappear on its left side around midnight Eastern Time, to parade across its disk once again. Moreover, its satellite Io will start the night forming a straight line with the other three giant Moons like a string of pearls, all on the right side of the planet, then Io will simply vanish as it’s visibly occulted by Jupiter, only to reappear on Jupiter’s opposite side for the final half of the night. Thus the true, dynamic, “living” nature of Jupiter will be obvious during
this broadcast, in real time.”
For backyard observers, Jupiter is “astronomy made simple.” It’s simply the brightest “star” in the entire sky. It’s currently out all night long, and highest up at midnight, hovering just above the famous constellation of Orion.
Slooh will devote the entire night of its opposition (or closest approach), when the planet is largest and brightest, to tracking it live through the world class observatory site in the Canary Islands as well as with Prescott Observatory in Prescott, Arizona. Displaying more detail than any other planet in the known universe, Jupiter’s fascinating and ever-changing cloud formations, storms, patches of blue sky — and its enormous rotating hurricane-like structure, the Great Red Spot, will all be on view in real-time, using Slooh telescopes. After the initial live segment with Bob Berman and Dr. Bolton, Slooh will broadcast live images of Jupiter throughout the night accompanied by recorded commentary from Berman.
Researchers continue to be deeply intrigued by the prospect of eventually finding life in the warm salt-water oceans of one of the Jovian satellites, which will also be on display and under discussion that night.