Video Transcript: What's Up for October 2011?
Jane Houston Jones: What's Up for October? Moons and meteor showers.
Hello and welcome. I'm Jane Houston Jones at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
How many moons can you see this month?
Our moon is easy to see, but the others will take a little magnification.
Jupiter's four Galilean moons can be spotted with a pair of steady binoculars but really shine through a telescope.
You might be able to see the different sizes of the four moons like what Galileo saw and sketched over 400 years ago.
And this is a great month to view Jupiter. It reaches opposition on October 28 when the king of the planets is closest to Earth in its orbit around the sun and best-placed for viewing.
If you haven't seen Jupiter through a telescope, join your nearest amateur astronomy club or observatory on their monthly public nights and have a look!
Last fall Jupiter's south equatorial belt dramatically disappeared.
This year the clouds that obscured it are gone, and the familiar reddish belt and the famous Great Red Spot are prominent once again.
What other planetary moons are on display?
Both Neptune and Uranus are low in the southern sky this month, just after sunset.
You'll need a big and powerful telescope to spot their moons, though.
It might be easier to look at photos of these moons taken by astrophotographers or sketches of objects seen through the eyepiece of a telescope.
Mark October 8 on your calendars. That special night is both International Observe the Moon night and the peak of the Draconid meteor shower.
Unfortunately, you can't have your cake -- or your green cheese -- and eat it, too.
Moonlight interferes with both the Draconids on the 8th and the Orionids later in the month.
Europe gets the best view of the Draconids.
But maybe you'll see a few Orionids closer to the end of the month. They peak on the 21st.
You can read about moons of the solar system at solarsystem dot nasa dot gov slash y s s for Year of the Solar System.
And you can learn about all of NASA's missions at w w w dot nasa dot gov.
That's all for this month. I'm Jane Houston Jones.
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology