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Observe Jupiter ‘up close’ during National Astronomy Week

Last Updated on Friday, 21 February 2014 14:22
Published on Friday, 21 February 2014 14:00

In just over a week, Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, will be at its highest point in the sky for many years to come. Near their closest to Earth, Jupiter and its moons will appear obvious in the sky, offering fantastic opportunities to view the giant planet through a telescope.

"Through binoculars you'll be able to see that Jupiter is distinctly non-star-like and you should be able to make out the Galilean moons of Jupiter - the four largest moons”, said Dr Chris Arridge, astronomer from University College, London. “These go around Jupiter in a matter of days and so you'll be able to watch them orbit by looking at the giant planet from one night to the next."

Jupiter 2 for press release Feb 16 smallAn image of Jupiter made by amateur astronomer and NAW Steering Group member David Arditti. He captured this picture on 16 February 2014, using a 36 cm telescope set up in his back garden in north London. Credit: David Arditti / NAW. Click for a full resolution imageViewing Jupiter will be a highlight of National Astronomy Week (1-8 March 2014) where UK astronomers and local organisations have teamed up to offer opportunities all over the UK to view the giant planet. Both professional and amateur astronomers as well as organisations have been arranging events and activities in locations all over the country, giving members of the public of all ages, opportunities to get involved.

Among the events taking place across the UK, are:

1 March – 4.30pm until late - Great Ellingham Recreation Centre, Great Ellingham, Attleborough - All things nocturnal! Night time guided walk, talks, star gazing and moth trapping with the RSPB and Breckland Astronomical Society.

5 March – 7.30pm - South Downs Planetarium and Science Centre, Chichester: A unique show in the Planetarium Dome where people will be shown the sights to look for in the night sky during the spring.

6 March – 4:30-6:30pm and 7-9pm – Almondell Country Park: Join the Royal Observatory Edinburgh and the Astronomical Society of Edinburgh for a night of comet making demonstrations and Jupiter viewing. Activities will be British Sign Language interpreted.

7-9 March – 7-9pm - Ruislip Lido in North West London: Come and view Jupiter, the Moon and other sky wonders courtesy of the West of London Astronomical Society. There’ll be telescopes galore to allow you to gaze at the craters and mountains of the Moon, the belts and satellites of Jupiter and the Orion Nebula and the Pleiades star cluster.

1-9 March – 4pm - Life Science Centre in Newcastle: Sit back and enjoy a tour of the night sky in the planetarium, zooming into this planetary giant and investigate two of Jupiter’s moons, Io and Europa: Fire and Ice. The price for this event is included in the admission for the Science Centre.

1-8 March - Wimbleball Lake, Exmoor National Park: Wimbleball Astrocamp includes a  variety of exciting activities for all the family to enjoy including talks and presentations, workshops, Planetarium, telescopes, stargazing opportunities, plus a BBQ on 1, 7 and 8 March (weather dependent).
8 March – 6.30-pm - Kingsland Primary School, Peebles - Star Party and Planetarium Night including talks on how wild birds navigate using moons and stars, public viewing sessions and meteorite viewing.

Dr Tom Johnston, Co-ordinator of the Peebles Astronomy Group in the Scottish borders, said: "National Astronomy Week is a wonderful vehicle through which our new Astronomy Group in Peebles can engage with the public and introduce both young and old alike to the hobby. It will provide an opportunity for many here in The Scottish Borders to experience what will be their first views of our beautiful dark skies through a telescope."

Details of all of the events taking place during National Astronomy Week can be found here:

Melissa Azombo smallUniversity of South Wales astronomy undergraduate Melissa Azombo holds a crocheted model of Jupiter's second largest moon, Callisto. Credit: Quentin Stanley / RAS. Click for a full resolution imageChairman of National Astronomy Week, Dr Robert Massey, said: “We've had a phenomenal response from the whole of the astronomy community, from senior researchers to teachers to amateur astronomers. We're all keen to see as many people as possible coming along to events, not only to look at Jupiter but to enjoy everything the night sky has to offer”.

National Astronomy Week is supported by the Science and Technology Facilities Council, the Royal Astronomical Society, the British Astronomical Association, the Society for Popular Astronomy, the Federation of Astronomical Societies, the British Association of Planetaria and Astronomy Now magazine.


Media contacts

Robert Massey
Chairman of National Astronomy Week
Tel: +44 (0)20 7734 4582 x214
Mob: +44 (0)7941 24 8035
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Laurie Marsden
National Astronomy Week Co-ordinator
Tel: +44 (0)1323 832731
Mob: +44 (0)7977 202301
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Images and captions

Images of Jupiter and of observing at a number of the sites mentioned on the National Astronomy Week website are available, as are some of public engagement activities at Astrofest. Please contact Laurie Marsden for information.



Interviews are available with Dr Lucie Green of the BBC’s Sky at Night. Please contact Laurie Marsden to arrange.


Notes for editors


National Astronomy Week

The dedicated NAW website, has plenty of information on Jupiter and what can be seen on the planet, as well as details of other objects visible during National Astronomy Week 2014. Over 170 nationwide events taking place during NAW are already registered on the website.  To register your event or find details of activities taking place near you, please visit the website,

The Week is supported by the Science and Technology Facilities Council, the Royal Astronomical Society, the British Astronomical Association, the Society for Popular Astronomy, the Federation of Astronomical Societies, the British Association of Planetaria and Astronomy Now magazine. Dr Lucie Green, solar physicist and Sky at Night presenter, is backing NAW 2014 too and keen to see it reach a large audience.

Follow us on Twitter @naw2014


The Science and Technology Facilities Council is keeping the UK at the forefront of international science and tackling some of the most significant challenges facing society such as meeting our future energy needs, monitoring and understanding climate change, and global security.

The Council has a broad science portfolio and works with the academic and industrial communities to share its expertise in materials science, space and ground-based astronomy technologies, laser science, microelectronics, wafer scale manufacturing, particle and nuclear physics, alternative energy production, radio communications and radar.

STFC operates or hosts world class experimental facilities including:

•    In the UK; ISIS pulsed neutron source, the Central Laser Facility, and LOFAR.  STFC is also the majority shareholder in Diamond Light Source Ltd.
•    Overseas; telescopes on La Palma and Hawaii

It enables UK researchers to access leading international science facilities by funding membership of international bodies including European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), the Institut Laue Langevin (ILL), European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO).  

STFC also has an extensive public outreach and engagement programme.  It is using its world leading research to inspire and enthuse schools and the general public about the impact and benefits that science can have on society.

STFC is one of seven publicly-funded research councils.  It is an independent, non-departmental public body of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

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The Royal Astronomical Society

The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS,, founded in 1820, encourages and promotes the study of astronomy, solar-system science, geophysics and closely related branches of science. The RAS organizes scientific meetings, publishes international research and review journals, recognizes outstanding achievements by the award of medals and prizes, maintains an extensive library, supports education through grants and outreach activities and represents UK astronomy nationally and internationally. Its more than 3800 members (Fellows), a third based overseas, include scientific researchers in universities, observatories and laboratories as well as historians of astronomy and others.

Follow the RAS on Twitter via @royalastrosoc