Have a favorite planet? HRPO personnel set aside nights every year to focus on the planets in our Solar System so you and your family, friends and co-workers can get an “up close” view of the terrestrial or gas giant that’s number one on your list. If possible, see all of them! There’s never any out-of-pocket expense for looking through Highland Road Park Observatory’s telescopes.
For 2019 the oppositions and elongations are mostly traffic-jammed into a five-month period. Mars♂ puts on a fantastic exhibition every two years—alas, this is not one of those years. Similarly, Venus♀ has no evening elongation during calendar year 2019.
Mercury☿ will be viewed at Burbank (it goes down with the Sun☉) for ninety minutes per elongation. The gas giants each receive the customary two hours each.
Tuesday 26 February, 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm CDT [in Pisces♓]
Sunday 23 June, 8;00 pm to 9:30 pm CDT [in Gemini♊]
Saturday 19 October, 5:45 pm to 7:15 pm CDT [in Libra♎]
at the Burbank Soccer Complex
The wonderful MESSENGER spacecraft spent over a year leisurely orbiting the closest planet to the Sun☉, gathering a wealth of images and data. We envy that craft, as Mercury☿ is the most difficult planet to see—but we’ll try our best! The western elongations of Mercury☿ and Venus♀ allow viewing of the planet while it is its farthest in angular separation from the Sun☉. Mercury☿ will dip down toward the horizon as personnel train a variety of equipment on it for patrons. There will be no programs at HRPO property on 19 October.
Sunday 9 June, 9:45 pm to 11:45 pm CDT
The king of the planets is always a stunning sight. On this date it will be in the constellation Ophiuchus. Its four Galilean moons—Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto—will be seen easily seen as well. In fact, Io and Europa will start the viewing session very close to each other, then separate as the hours go by. The Juno spacecraft gathered a lot of data. Will people ever orbit Jupiter♃? There will be no viewing at HRPO on Friday 7 June.
Tuesday 9 July, 10:00 pm to 12:00 am CDT
The spacecraft Cassini has left an amazing legacy of images and data. However, there’s no substituting the light from Saturn♄’s clouds and rings entering a telescope and then your pupil. Right now Saturn♄ is in the constellation Sagittarius♐. There will be no viewing at HRPO on Friday 19 July.
Monday 9 September, 8:45 pm to 10:45 pm CDT
It’s the windiest planet—far away, but its distinctive blue tint is apparent. The Voyager 2 spacecraft provided an incredible amount of information. Visitors will be viewing the farthest “official” planet while it resides in the constellation Aquarius♒; it doesn’t leave that constellation until 2023! There will be no viewing at HRPO on Friday 6 September.
Sunday 27 October, 7:45 pm to 9:45 pm CDT
It’s the tiltiest planet, far away, but its distinctive blue-green tint showcased in Voyager 2 images is apparent. Neither Uranus♅ nor Neptune♆ has any spacecraft currently investigating them…for now. Uranus♅ will remain in its current home—Aries♈—through at least 2023.
Updated by Frederick J. Barnett on Thursday, April 4, 2019, 02:07 PM.