Thursday, July 05, 2007

Planet Watching

Last night, I managed to see a really spectacular view of the Gallilean satellites of Jupiter; Ganymede, Io, Europa and Callisto. Unfortunately, I didn't have my CCD imager with me but, thanks to Sky & Telescope, I have been able to simulate the view:

We did manage to get a very clear view through my astronomical binoculars (despite a nearby street-light) and, compared to the simulation, the only difference we observed was that the moons appeared to be in more of a plane. This may be due to the relatively low magnification (15x) we were using. If you want to see for yourself, and the sky is clear, I am currently observing Jupiter low in the south-slightly-by-eastern sky at 9 to 10 pm. It is obvious, even at dusk, as one of the first objects to appear (Earth's Moon isn't visible until after midnight, although still bright and obvious at 10am local), although you will obviously have to wait for the sky to darken somewhat more before you will be able to see Jupiter's moons. If you want more details, you can generate your own local sky chart (free registration required and it is a bit of a pain on OSX) here.

A bit lower, and to the right, you can also see the super-giant star Antares, which, last night at least, was obviously red.


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