Jupiter, King of the planets.  Jupiter has recently passed opposition (exactly opposite the sun in the sky) and majestically shines away in the night sky with a magnitude of -2.5.  This hulking gas giant is so big you can fit 1321 Earth’s inside it and is so huge that it has more than twice the mass of all the other planets in the solar system combined, yet my image manages to make it look small and fuzzy, a problem I suspect a lot of gentleman may be used to.  Then again it was 410 million miles away (and getting further away), which gives it a light time of around 35 minutes.  In other words, light, which travels at 186,000 miles per second, still has some distance to cover, that’s how far away it is.  So maybe I should stop beating myself up about the quality of the image, that’s not even considering the seeing and other conditions, didn’t even give the telescope any cooling down time.

When we look at Jupiter, we don’t see the solid surface of the planet, it may not even have one, we actually see dynamic cloud tops of its atmosphere, the equatorial zones, bandings and other features (although the Great red Spot currently not on view when this picture was taken).  I’ve had to use a Barlow lens to get a decent size image on the camera sensor captured with SharpCap, then processed with AutoStakkert and Photoshop.  All done under the glary orange glow of a nearby street lamp and a 61% moon, using a Skywatcher 200p on an ageing and poorly built unguided EQ5 mount, Barlow and ASI120MC camera.

While the moon is out, I might as well pay some attention towards it, so have focused along Mare Imbrium where the terminator is helping to bring out some detail.  Its one of the largest craters in the solar system and formed when a very large object hit the moon.  It’s also the place where the first lunar rover, the Soviet Union’s Lunokhod 1, trundled along for 6.55 miles and most recently, the Chinese Chang’e 3 lander deployed the Yutu Jade Rabbit rover.  Closer towards Montes Apenninus is the landing site of Apollo 15, where astronauts David Scott and James Irwin drove the first crewed lunar rover while Al Worden orbited above.

The area above shows the close up region around Sinus Lunicus nestled between the craters of Archimedes on the far left of the close up and Aristillus.  Crater Cassini is on the far right showing its lava filled floor and craterlets.  The Soviet Union’s Luna 2 probe landed here in 1959 between craters Archimedes and Autolycus, becoming the first spacecraft to reach the surface of the moon.  It was not equipped with any propulsion system and it impacted the moon at 3 kilometres per second.  Sinus Lunicus is latin for “Bay of Lunik” to honour the landing site.  This stacked image was taken during 61% illuminated waxing gibbous phase when the terminator was nearby.  Skywatcher 200p, untracked EQ5 mount, ASI120MC camera and 2x Barlow stacked with AutoStakkert, wavelets in Registax and adjustments in photoshop.

You can see my first light efforts using the ZWO ASI120MC camera here.


Nick Cook. Amateur astronomer, space, history, nerd, extreme dog walker, cat slave, severe tinnitus sufferer. 13.7 billion years in the making - not that much better for it.

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