It’s a interesting to realise that anybody with a smart phone can now photograph our gas giant, Jupiter, located over 865,000,000 km away. You’ll need some better optics to get the moons of Jupiter, but it’s still very impressive that light emitted by the Sun bounced off the planet and traveled space all the way to the small 2mm opening of the lens and sensor on the phone to record a photo.
You’ll have to set the photo app into manual focus and use the “pro” setting to set the ISO and exposure, as the full automatic won’t be able to deal with such small light points in a dark background. But even hand held the results are good, thanks to keeping the exposure above 1/60s.
Below are photos of the Venus and Jupiter in early March taken with nothing more than a Samsung S10. If it wasn’t for Venus being so bright, correctly getting Jupiter would be a greater challenge.
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.
If you are able to get out of bed early before sunrise and the sky is clear, you can catch a view of our three closest planets, and if you include Earth that makes 4. Mercury was at the greatest elongation on September 12th (furthest from the Sun when viewed from Earth) which makes it a good time to spot without the glare of the Sun. But it happens that Mars and Venus are also on that same side of the Sun, making a chanced planetary alignment.
The sky map below [click for larger] shows the position of Mercury, Mars and Venus for the morning of the 16 to the 19 of September. Bright star Regulus and our Moon are also there to make this a worth-while event, especially on Monday the 18th.
Mars and Mercury will be closest on the 16th, while the 18th will probably be the most photogenic as the Moon will be a thin crescent in the middle of this alignment.
Tonight, June 30th, right after sunset and before it’s fully dark if you look West you’ll see Venus and Jupiter less than a degree apart in the sky. And with either binoculars or a small telescope you’ll be able to observe Venus as a crescent, and the moons of Jupiter.
Welcome to a journey into our Universe with Dr Dave, amateur astronomer and astrophotographer for over 40 years. Astro-imaging, image processing, space science, solar astronomy and public outreach are some of the stops in this journey!