Earth, Jupiter and the sun rarely move in sync with one another, which is why Scripps College students gathered recently with others from the Claremont Colleges to witness a rare astronomical phenomenon.
On October 29, these three celestial bodies were perfectly aligned so that Scripps students peering through telescopes saw Jupiter at its brightest and clearest.
Professors and staff from the W.M. Keck Science Department of Claremont McKenna College, Pitzer College, and Scripps College hosted the event at Robert J. Bernard Biological Field Station. More than 75 people gazed at the Milky Way through high-definition telescopes which were placed at three different spots.
Scientific Instrumentation Support Technician Walter Cook, Kenneth Pitzer Professor of Physics Stephen Naftilan and Bidushi Bhattacharya, director of sponsored research and research programs, stood respectively by each telescope and gave informative talks about Jupiter, Earth and the sun.
Lab Lecturer of Physics Thomas Dershem directed visitors to the night’s activities.
Scripps College student Devika Agrawal said the evening was “magical.”
“I did see Jupiter: a small perfect circle of yellow, with some distinct colorations. I saw three moons around it, too,” said Agrawal, a first-year student majoring in media studies. “When I saw this, my first thoughts were about how I suddenly felt so much closer to the planet than I was in reality.
“It felt amazing to be brought closer to them.”