UNT hosts Star Party for rare viewing of one of Jupiter's moons

Friday, November 4, 2011

What: View a rare occurrence of one of Jupiter's largest moons with automatic guided telescopes at the UNT astronomy program's Star Party

When: 7-11 p.m. Nov. 5 (Saturday). Jupiter's moon, Io, will be visible from 7-8:50 p.m.

Where: Rafes Urban Astronomy Center, located at 2350 Tom Cole Rd.

Contact: For more information, visit http://astronomy.unt.edu/starparties.html or contact the UNT astronomy program at 940-369-8213

DENTON (UNT), Texas -- Stargazers will get a chance to see a rare occurrence in the rotation of one of Jupiter's largest moons during the UNT Star Party 7-11 p.m. this Saturday, Nov. 5 at the Rafes Urban Astronomy Center, located at 2350 Tom Cole Rd. From 7-8:50 p.m., Io, one of the planet's four largest moons, will pass in front of Jupiter's Red Spot, a hurricane on the planet's surface with a reddish hue. Guests will be able to view Jupiter and other objects in space through the center's automatic guided telescopes.

Jupiter's Red Spot, the hurricane on the planet's surface that has been raging for approximately 300 years, changes in intensity and color, which makes the storm difficult to locate, said Starr. When Io passes over this region, the moon will cast a shadow, causing the Red Spot to appear partially black and the moon to reflect white light. Jupiter's moons transit, or rotate around the planet, a few times a month but seldom cross over the Red Spot, said Starr. This phenomenon acts as a guide to astronomers to find the Red Spot.

The University of North Texas astronomy program hosts the free Star Parties the first Saturday of each month, weather permitting. The event will begin with a Sky Talk, which will include an explanation of Io's movement and mythology about the constellations by students in the astronomy program, about 30 minutes after sunset.

Guests are encouraged to bring their own telescopes, and volunteers will assist in adjusting the equipment to view Jupiter. Participants also will be able to view the planet with a specialty Dodsonian telescope owned by Preston Starr, the UNT observatory manager.

Children will have the opportunity to view and then draw the craters of the moon, Jupiter and its moons. Guests can put their names in a drawing for a small meteorite, part of the personal collect of Ron DiIulio, planetarium and astronomy program director at UNT.

For more information visit the Star Party website or call the UNT astronomy program at 940-369-8213.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108

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