The last time Jupiter was in a favorable position for good photos was 2010, so while I have photographed the planet a few times since, the results weren’t really satisfactory. So on July 7th, finally took the equipment out and set my mind to image some planets (Venus was also in a good position).
As luck would have it, the Great Red Spot was pointing our way, and landed my best shot of it yet. We may be past the May 2018 sweet spot for opposition, but that doesn’t mean you should not attempt to observer or photograph the Jupiter. Still plenty of good days ahead.
Jupiter with moons Europa (left) and Io (right)
I took about 11 video sequences of the planet, and sure enough the last one yielded the best result. I guess as the evening progressed, the air cooled and provided for better viewing.
Televue 3X barlow
Vesta Webcam with IR/UV filter
Processing with Registax and GIMP.
After yesterday’s photo with the smart phone, I decided to go for a more professional shot and grabbed the Canon 80D and capture once again the Moon and Jupiter through the clouds. However this time around took two exposures, and stitched the together.
Moon and Jupiter Through the Cloud – May 27, 2018
The wide-angle was 24mm F4.0 1/10s ISO-1600. This was to pick up the clouds against a night sky as well as Jupiter. Then a close-up of the Moon, with a shorter exposure and lowered ISO to pick up details of the lunar surface (85mm F5.6 1/250s ISO-200).
Opened them both in GIMP and played with layers, masks and curves to get the desired image. The close-up Moon photo was scaled down to match the 24mm wide-angle photo to avoid having gigantic moon.
Sometimes all it takes is a little cloud layer to hide the background stars to really reveal how bright Jupiter is right now. The photo below was taken with my smartphone on May 26th, with Jupiter clearly visible next to the Moon.
Jupiter and the Moon shining through the cloud – May 26, 2018
Jupiter and Earth were at their closest (opposition) on May 8th, but the entire month of May is a good time to spot Jupiter as it’s up high in the sky most of the night. Once Venus sets in the early evening, Jupiter is the brightest “star” in the sky, a good 20 times brighter than the next brightest stars.
Up until May 28th, Jupiter and the Moon will be near each other in the night sky, making for good photo opportunity.
I have to say with the wet and cloudy weather in the past two to three months I haven’t taken the telescope out for quite some time. The high humidity often produces clouds in the evening and into the night as the air cools. And with the wet spring and early summer, the mosquitoes are rather annoying.
Therefore I haven’t been actively taking part in my backyard astronomy hobby. However a few days ago, I noticed a crescent Moon through thin clouds, and what I thought to be Venus just below. Grabbed the camera and took a few photos at ISO 800 66mm F5.6 1/4sec to see what type of result I could get with that. I have to say it was hard to find the right setting, and my car’s roof was a poor tripod.
The photo below really doesn’t capture the range and subtle gradients in direct and diffused light around the Moon and the clouds, contrasting with the pin-point bright planet.
Jupiter Below a Crescent Moon (July 28, 2017) – Benoit Guertin
It was only a few days later when I downloaded the images on the computer and checked to confirm the planet that I was surprised that the it was Jupiter shinning so brightly.
Started processing some of the images taken on April 8th, the only evening with a clear night. I spend a good hour in the near freezing air to capture Jupiter with various settings. The one below was taken with a 2X barlow and a simple webcam. This is a mosaic of two frames as not all moons fit into the rather narrow 640×480 CCD sensor. Unfortunately the fourth moon, Callisto, is just out of the frame to the right.
Jupiter – 2017 opposition – SW80ED and 2x barlow
Telescope: Skywatcher 80ED with 2x barlow lens
Sensor: Philips Vesta webcam with IR-UR cut filter
Processing: Registax and GIMP
Took 40 seconds of video at 20 images/sec which produced a 351MB AVI file. The video is then analysed, registered and stacked with Registax. Color saturation and light levels where then adjusted in GIMP.
I also took many more video with a 3x barlow, but getting the focus right was a challenge. And I’m afraid the end result is just a “bigger” Jupiter, no additional details. I will need a few nights to process those and see which one turned out well. I will also try using the drizzle algorithm on the image above to see if I can get a larger and better image.
This weekend is the best time to see Jupiter of all 2017, because the planet is at opposition, meaning it is exactly opposite to the Sun and the Earth-Jupiter separation is also at its closest.
The photo below was taken during the September 2010 event and I happened to fall upon a fantastic low turbulence window in the atmosphere. Look closely and you’ll see the shadow of one of those moons on the Jupiter’s surface.
Jupiter – Benoit Guertin
Photos of Jupiter with the moons are a little tricky. Capturing the smaller moons require more exposure or gain, but at the risk of over-exposing the planet and turning Jupiter with those wonderful cloud bands into nothing more than a white sphere. It is always better to take a series of images or videos with different settings and review them at a later time on the computer. Some information on planetary imaging and processing is provided in my blog on imaging with a webcam.
Planetary imaging is all about controlling turbulence. Air turbulence whether within the optics, telescope, near the ground or high atmosphere will give you a blurry view. Hence some simple tips are:
- Allow your equipment to cool down a few minutes such that the equipment temperature can stabilize and match the outdoors.
- Past midnight is better as this allows time for the ground to cool especially after a sunny afternoon, reducing convective currents.
- Wait until Jupiter is high in the sky, that way there is less atmosphere between you and Jupiter. By looking straight up, you will be looking through a smaller “air column”.
A good time will be on April 10th when the Moon will next to Jupiter. See the sky chart below showing the southern part of the sky at 10pm EDT. The planet will track west as the night advances.
April 10th 2017 Sky Chart
JunoCam onboard the Juno spacecraft is providing us with some great pictures of the Jupiter cloud top, but from the rarely seen polar angle. Pretty much all spacecrafts that have visited Jupiter did so with a fly by along the equatorial plane, which is also the same plane we observe Jupiter here on Earth. However with the Juno spacecraft, we now have a chance to enter into a polar orbit and take pictures of the polar regions.
Part of the reason behind JunoCam is to get the amateur astronomer community participating in selecting what parts of Jupiter the camera should be snapping pictures, and of processing the raw images. The image below was captured by JunoCam during Juno’s 3rd swing around Jupiter at a distance of about 37,000km. The south polar region is on the left.
NASA, JPL-Caltech, SwRI, MSSS; Processing: Damian Peach
The above was the PeriJove3 encounter (3rd pass), and voting on the next PeriJove4 will take place between January 19th and 23rd 2017. This is where the community can propose and vote for Points of Interest to photograph with JunoCam during the rather quick (2 hours) close pass with Juno. You can even submit images of Jupiter taken with your equipment to help plan the Points of Interest.
Space-thriller themed mission trailer
Secrets lie deep within Jupiter, shrouded in the solar system’s strongest magnetic field and most lethal radiation belts. On July 4, 2016, NASA’s Juno spacecraft will plunge into uncharted territory, entering orbit around the gas giant and passing closer than any spacecraft before. Juno will see Jupiter for what it really is, but first it must pass the trial of orbit insertion. For more information: http://www.nasa.gov/juno and http://missionjuno.swri.edu
Yay finally got the Great Red Spot! Throughout the years observing and taking photos Jupiter, I’ve always wondered if the darker detail I was observing was the Great Red Spot. Based on date and time it’s possible to determine if the GRS is in view, plenty of software and tables out there for that. But now I’ve captured my first picture of Jupiter where the GSR is unmistakable, 672 million km away.
Jupiter and the Great Red Spot – March 27th, 2016
April is prime Jupiter observing time, as Jupiter reaches the meridian just before midnight. And we happen to be at time when the Earth-Jupiter distance is at its shortest, so don’t miss out! As it’s high in the sky, there is less turbulent atmosphere to peer through and the seeing is better.
Jupiter at 10pm mid-April
The chart above is the sky due south at 10pm local time on April 15th. And if you have a set of binoculars, camera zoom lens or telescope you’ll easily be able to see four of Jupiter’s moons all lined up next to the planet.
Above photo of Jupiter:
Skywatcher 80ED with Televue 3x
Philips Vesta 675 webcam (yes it’s old…)
Registax for alignment and wavelet
Gimp for post-processing
With Earth having passed between Jupiter and the Sun on March 8th, we have some of the finest observations of the Jovian planet. It’s only normal to have a few backyard astronomers setting their sights on the largest planet (myself included, still got unprocessed videos from March 27th). However Gerrit Kernbauer was lucky enough to record an unusual event: something slammed into Jupiter!
Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy reported that Gerrit Kernbauer with his 20cm telescope in Austria, captured on March 17th what appeared to be an impact of sort.
The issue was to confirm that it was an actual impact, and not some other natural effect or electronic noise in his setup. What better than to have a second independent observation, and that came from John McKeon with a 28cm telescope in Ireland.
Maybe I should go take a look at my videos on Jupiter from March 27th just in case… Actually with my 80mm telescope, I don’t think it would have picked up such an impact.