Greetings, greetings fellow star gazers. And just a reminder that this Wednesday and Thursday some lucky people may experience an incredible Leonid Meteor Storm of thousands upon thousands of meteors falling to Earth, because the comet responsible for this annual meteor shower recently passed by and thus we may ride through denser portions of meteoritic comet debris. Your best chance of seeing this is Thursday the 18th between 1 a.m. and sunrise.
Bundle up, lie back on a lawn chair and slowly scan the skies for a couple of hours and you will see more meteors than usual even if you don't get a meteor storm. And this weekend you can watch the moon as it pays a visit to the two giant gas planets Jupiter and Saturn. O.K., We've got our skies set up for this Saturday evening November 20th, 8 p.m. your local time and if you look southeast you will see a very bright 12 day old moon right under the king of the planets, 88 thousand mile wide Jupiter which is still almost at its brightest in 12 years. Then if you go out the next night, Sunday November 21st at 8 p.m. a 13 day old moon will be huddled right under the 75 thousand mile wide ringed planet Saturn which is still at its brightest in 22 years.
And may I urge all of you in the strongest terms to make sure that some time this month you take a look at Jupiter and Saturn through even the cheapest department store telescope because you absolutely won't believe how exquisitely beautiful they appear. Indeed right now we're seeing them as big and as bright as they ever get. Find a friend with a telescope or a good pair of binoculars or an amateur astronomical club, a museum or a planetarium near you, but whatever you do make sure you see Jupiter and Saturn this month.
You'll be amazed when you look you look at Saturn because you'll also be able to see its largest moon, 3 thousand mile wide Titan which is actually as big as the planet Mercury, and if you look at Jupiter through a telescope or binoculars just after sunset this Saturday night you'll see Jupiter's 4 largest moons all lined up in a row in order of their distance from Jupiter. They'll look like tiny dots of light, but in fact they are giant worlds. Closest to Jupiter you'll see Io, second out Europa, third out Ganymede, and fourth out Callisto.
Ganymede, which is also bigger then the planet Mercury is just a few miles larger than Saturn's Titan which makes it the largest moon in our solar system, over a thousand miles wider than our own moon. Now you can remember Jupiter's 4 great moons in their proper order if you remember this little phrase: I Eat Green Caterpillars. I for Io, E for Europa, G for Ganymede and C for Callisto. And if you watch later in the evening you'll actually see Io change places with Europa. Wow! What a great week. Two giant planets at their brightest and the possibility of a meteor storm. Is it any wonder that I always ask you to Keep Looking Up?
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