Jupiter brings surprises to UAE residents

This week, stargazers in the United Arab Emirates will be treated to an interesting celestial phenomenon – the opposition between Jupiter and the Sun. The largest planet in the solar system will be in a straight line with the Earth and the Sun, and the distance will be minimal.

UAE residents will see an unusually bright object in the sky. This will be the best time to observe the gas giant. Jupiter will be in the closest point of its orbit to the Earth. It will be visible from Dubai on 3 November, from 18:15 to 05:54. At 18:15, it will rise to 7° above the eastern horizon and become visible, reaching its zenith at 00:04.

During the opposition, observers can use binoculars or a compact telescope to observe Jupiter’s four largest satellites – Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto – which will appear as brilliant spots. The special event, timed to coincide with the Sun-Jupiter opposition, has been planned at the Al Thuraya Astronomy Centre. Astronomy lovers will gather at Mushrif Park, from 19:00 to 21:00.

As you know, Jupiter has an average diameter of 139,820 km, which is 11 times the diameter of the Earth.If you look at Jupiter in binoculars, you can see only a tiny light disc. But if you take a more powerful telescope with a magnification of 40-50 times, it is easy to see that this disc is crossed by dark bands parallel to the equator of the planet. They are belts of clouds lined up in this direction.

The reason for this strange atmospheric behaviour is Jupiter’s extremely high rate of rotation around its own axis. Its equatorial regions rotate in just 10 hours. In addition, the Jupiterian atmosphere has powerful convective currents coming from the hotter centre of the planet. As a consequence, wind speeds on Jupiter can reach 600 kilometres per hour. It is these that form the bands of clouds that stretch along the equator.

Jupiter has an incredible 95 satellites. Only Ganymede, Callisto, Io and Europa have a diameter of more than 1000 km and could well be called dwarf planets. Two more – Amalthea and Himalia – have sizes more than 100 km (and their shape is far from spherical). The rest of the satellites are much smaller: most of them do not reach 10 km.

Source: Khaleej Times

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