Highland Road Park Observatory
2018 PLANET TIMES
All ages invited. Excluding for Neptune♆, binoculars encouraged.
Viewing location for inferior planets: Burbank Soccer Complex
Viewing location for superior planets: HRPO
Have a favorite planet? HRPO personnel set aside Saturdays annually for each planet in our Solar System so you and your family, friends and coworkers can get an “up close” view of the terrestrial or gas giant that’s #1 on your list. Or try to see all of them! As usual, there’s never any out-of-pocket expense for looking through HRPO’s two large reflectors.
For 2018 our sibling planets are mostly traffic-jammed into the summer months. Mars♂ has a legendary Closest Approach night in July 2018—the nearest pass in fifteen years!
The two closest terrestrials will be viewing at Burbank (they go down with the Sun☉) for ninety minutes per elongation. The gas giants each receive the customary two hours each.
Tuesday 8 May, 9:30 pm to 11:30 pm CDT
The king of the planets (on this date in the constellation Libra♎) is always a delight, with the visible cloud bands and its four Galilean moons—Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto—easily seen as well. The Galileans are always in a different configuration from night to night. How many of them will be seen this night? The Juno spacecraft is just ending its stint in orbit around Jupiter♃, gathering optical and other data! Will NASA extend the Juno mission? HRPO will not be open on Friday 11 May.
Tuesday 26 June, 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♐. HRPO will not be open on Friday 29 June.
Wednesday 11 July, 7:45 pm to 9:15 pm CDT
Tuesday 6 November, 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm CST
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 eastern 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. The swiftest planet will be in Cancer♋ during the July attempt, and in Scorpius♏ during the November attempt.
Thursday 26 July, 6:30 pm to 12:30 am CDT
This planet will dominate almost the entirety of astronomy news and skygazer focus in the weeks leading to (while in Capricornus♑) its historic Opposition—the best in fifteen years!
Friday 17 August, 8:00 pm to 9:30 pm CDT
at the Burbank Soccer Complex
In Virgo♍ the Virgin, Venus♀ will shine brilliantly during its greatest eastern of the year. Equipment will be set up across the street from the dog park.
There will be no programs on HRPO property.
Friday 7 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 lecture this evening.
Tuesday 23 October, 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm CDT
It’s the tiltiest planet, far away, but its distinctive blue-green tint showcased in Voyager 2 images is apparent. Visitors will be viewing Uranus as it resides in the constellation Pisces. Neither Uranus♅ nor Neptune♆ has any spacecraft currently investigating them…for now. (After several years Uranus♅ has a new home—Aries♈.)
Updated by Frederick J. Barnett on Friday, May 11, 2018, 12:03 PM.