Drop in to Washington and see Jupiter

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WEARSIDERS are invited to a special event that will be out of this world.

Sunderland Astronomical Society (SAS) is hosting three viewing nights at Washington Wildfowl Park to give visitors the chance to see Jupiter.

The Jupiter Nights, held at the society’s observatory in the park’s grounds, will focus on the largest planet of our solar system which, though about 500million miles away, is still visible to the naked eye.

Held from January 19-21, the events will coincide with the BBC1 show, Stargazing Live, which is being shown next week.

Paul Meade, from Sunderland Astronomical Society, said: “The stargazing live show this year is going to be huge with events being held up and down the country.

“The SAS is in a perfect position of having its own observatory to help members of the public to come down and experience, first hand, the wonders of the night sky above.”

He added: “We will also have various telescopes available for members of the public to see the sights in the night sky. On each of the nights a talk will be given by one of our amateur astronomers.

“The staff of the WWT will also be opening the cafe so hot food and drinks will also be available to be bought.”

The event is for all ages and levels of experience.

If you have a telescope and want to bring it down feel free, but remember to wrap up warm (plenty of layers) and wear a hat.

The events are free.

JUPITER is the fifth planet from the sun and the largest planet in the solar system.

It is a gas giant with mass one-thousandth that of the sun, but is two and a half times the mass of all the other planets in our solar system combined.

Jupiter is classified as a gas giant along with Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Together, these four planets are sometimes referred to as the Jovian or outer planets.

The planet was known by astronomers of ancient times and was associated with the mythology and religious beliefs of many cultures.

The Romans named the planet after the Roman god Jupiter.

When viewed from Earth, Jupiter can reach an apparent magnitude of −2.94, making it on average the third-brightest object in the night sky after the Moon and Venus. (Mars can briefly match Jupiter’s brightness at certain points in its orbit.)