“This can’t be real.”

But it is!

Autumn is the season for Saturn, the planet that inspires so many exclamations of surprise, disbelief, and delight at the eyepiece.

Jupiter is also wonderful, outshining everything in the night sky right now, save the Moon. Jupiter reached peak brightness in late September, a phenomenon called opposition, which I wrote about in my last column for The Provincetown Independent.

I invited neighbors in my co-op to come out to see Jupiter, Saturn, and the Moon. It was a fun evening! And Earth’s atmosphere was exceptionally steady, which allows an observer to see details that are otherwise obscured by turbulence. As Jupiter rose higher, the Great Red Spot (a hurricane bigger than Earth that’s been raging for centuries) came into clear view, as well as many whirls and festoons in its atmosphere. All four Galilean moons were also visible.

I’ll be doing events like this as often as I can this month and next, while the two giants of the solar system are at their most spectacular.

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