March 2014: Look out for the moons of Jupiter and Saturn

Wednesday, 12 March 2014 - 4:59pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna
Aadil Desai tells you about the Moons of the planets of the Sun and guides you for viewing the ones visible this month.
  • Earth and Planetary Moons. Image by NASA

Although our planet Earth only has one Moon, most other planets (except Mercury and Venus, which have no natural satellites or moons of their own and Mars, which has just two moons that are small irregular sized objects) have a large number of moons revolving around them. The ringed planet Saturn boasts of 53 moons (eight more await official confirmation), Jupiter has 50 (18 more await official confirmation), Uranus has 27 and Neptune has 13 (one more awaits official confirmation). Some asteroids and dwarf planets such as Pluto and Eris have moons of their own too; of Pluto's five satellites, the largest one, Charon, is almost the size of the planet itself.

Throughout this month four of Jupiter's Galilean moons Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto will be easily visible in constellation Gemini and Saturn's largest moon Titan in constellation Libra. Appearing like faint stars, the Jovian moons move considerably fast, sometimes going behind the planet, getting covered in its shadow and sometimes passing in front of it causing a shadow on the planet.

This game of hide and seek is fun to watch if you have a good telescope with a high magnifying power, even though you can easily view the moons with a pair of binoculars or a small telescope. Use this javascript application http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/objects/javascript/jupiter to find the exact position of these moons with respect to the planet.

Moons of Jupiter:

1. Io
2. Europa
3. Ganymede
4. Callisto
5. Amalthea
6. Himalia
7. Elara
8. Pasiphae
9. Sinope
10. Lysithea
11. Carme
12. Ananke
13. Leda
14. Thebe
15. Adrastea
16. Metis
17. Callirrhoe
18. Themisto
19. Megaclite
20. Taygete
21. Chaldene
22. Harpalyke
23. Kalyke
24. Iocaste
25. Erinome
26. Isonoe
27. Praxidike
28. Autonoe
29. Thyone
30. Hermippe
31. Aitne
32. Eurydome
33. Euanthe
34. Euporie
35. Orthosie
36. Sponde
37. Kale
38. Pasithee
39. Hegemone
40. Mneme
41. Aoede
42. Thelxinoe
43. Arche
44. Kallichore
45. Helike
46. Carpo
47. Eukelade
48. Cyllene
49. Kore
50. Herse

Yet to be confirmed
1. S/2003 J2
2. S/2003 J3
3. S/2000 J11
4. S/2003 J4
5. S/2003 J5
6. S/2003 J9
7. S/2003 J10
8. S/2003 J12
9. S/2003 J15
10. S/2003 J16
11. S/2003 J18
12. S/2003 J19
13. S/2003 J23
14. S/2010 J 1
15. S/2010 J 2
16. S/2000 J11
17. S/2011 J1
18. S/2011 J2

Moons of Saturn:
1. Mimas
2. Enceladus
3. Tethys
4. Dione
5. Rhea
6. Titan
7. Hyperion
8. Iapetus
9. Erriapus
10. Phoebe
11. Janus
12. Epimetheus
13. Helene
14. Telesto
15. Calypso
16. Kiviuq
17. Atlas
18. Prometheus
19. Pandora
20. Pan
21. Ymir
22. Paaliaq
23. Tarvos
24. Ijiraq
25. Suttungr
26. Mundilfari
27. Albiorix
28. Skathi
29. Siarnaq
30. Thrymr
31. Narvi
32. Methone
33. Pallene
34. Polydeuces
35. Daphnis
36. Aegir
37. Bebhionn
38. Bergelmir
39. Bestla
40. Farbauti
41. Fenrir
42. Fornjot
43. Hati
44. Hyrrokkin
45. Kari
46. Loge
47. Skoll
48. Surtur
49. Greip
50. Jarnsaxa
51. Tarqeq
52. Anthe
53. Aegaeon

Yet to be confirmed
1. S/2004 S7
2. S/2004 S12
3. S/2004 S13
4. S/2004 S17
5. S/2006 S1
6. S/2006 S3
7. S/2007 S2
8. S/2007 S3
9. S/2009 S1




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