Jupiter at Dawn


I got up this morning to take a walk before work, but when I got outside and saw Jupiter hanging high in the eastern sky, I decided to stop putting off my pre-dawn stargazing (or planetgazing), and I went back inside to get the telescope.

As expected, Jupiter surpassed Saturn in terms of viewing awesomeness. I wasn't able to see the red spot, but I could clearly make out stripes, and even in the relatively bright dawn sky I could see four moons. Three of the moons formed a straight line relatively close to the planet, with one one the left and two on the right. A fourth moon was hanging farther off up and to the left. I suspect that if and when I observe Jupiter in a dark night sky I'll be able to see even more hot moon action.

One thing I noticed was that, particularly with the higher-powered eyepiece, it was just about impossible to get the planet fully into focus. I quickly realized that this had nothing to do with the optics of the telescope. Even when I took my hand off the focus knob, the sharpness of the image would fluctuate. Looking more closely, I could see what looked like those air perturbations you see over roads on hot days (only, in this case, small enough to be visible against a tiny dot in the sky). I imagine that the changing temperature of the morning atmosphere was creating all kinds of air turbulance, which was affecting the clarity of the image. Again, this is a problem that will hopefully be somewhat abated by viewing in a temperature-stabilized night sky.

As I was closing down the operation a woman who was walking her dog came along and asked me what I was looking at (in a friendly, not accusatory, way). I resisted the urge to say "Your apartment," and instead explained that I was observing Jupiter and pointed out the fading bright spot in the sky (the sun was creeping over the horizon at this point so the planet was becoming very hard to see). As we spoke, her dog investigated my backpack, and after she was gone I saw that he had drooled all over it. I'm sure the cats will be excited about that.


Good lord, what time are you up in the mornings? My rule is never to wake up while planets are visible in the sky.

I wish this telescope of yours could take pictures. It would be nice to see what you're looking at. Or is that something only the Hubble does?

did you eyeball the lunar eclipse last night?

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by hb published on February 15, 2008 8:26 AM.

Saturn and Earthshine was the previous entry in this blog.

Blood Moon is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

February 2012
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29      


Powered by Movable Type 5.04