Jupiter Transits, March 14 2016

Photography, Science Tech

Jupiter Multi-transit Event March 14 2016Left to right: 22:42, 23:03, 23:28 CDT (-5 UTC). Io and Europa, with accompanying shadows.

Hey everyone, I know it’s been a long time since I posted anything. But here’s a post about last night, which seems worth sharing. I was blessed with a very nice and enjoyable night.

I began last night at a leisurely pace. I had noted that it was going to be a nice night as the evening progressed, but even so I must admit that I was less than enthusiastic about going out. Even to me, someone who loves astronomy, the thought of the upcoming day and the lack of sleep prevent me from going out all the times I’d like to. But I continued putting up my equipment. I decided to just put an eyepiece in and enjoy a simpler night.

I glanced at the moon for a good bit, and noted that the atmosphere seemed quite still. It was a comfortable night- warm, perhaps, for a March night but pleasantly so. It cooled off later to the point that I put a jacket on. Biting bugs aren’t quite out yet, so I wasn’t plagued by bloodthirsty, whining drones of chomping insect jaws. I swung the C9.25 over to a star and inspected the intrafocal and extrafocal images for collimation. I noted for the first time in a long time what I assumed was a heat plume, which comes off of a warm secondary baffle in the telescope. The atmosphere, on the Pickering scale, was probably about a 5 (this is a scale of atmospheric turbulence on a scale of ten, by looking at the airy disk and diffraction rings of a star). The air’s transparency could have been better, but I was okay with that because I wasn’t interested in searching out faint objects. After deciding that my collimation was satisfactory, I moved on to Jupiter in the eastern sky.

Immediately upon putting my eye up to the eyepiece (I was at a magnification of 235x), I noted that a lot was going on. I at once saw two shadows and one moon on the disk of the planet. I didn’t immediately see the second moon, but I new it had to be there because of the position of it’s shadow. The entire transit was very near the disk’s limb. I wasn’t sure if the transit had just begun or was just about to end. After watching it for a while, I concluded that it had begun and was rotation across Jupiter’s disk. I immediately decided that this was worth getting my camera out for.

A good bit later, after making the necessary adjustments needed to use my camera, I was again on Jupiter, capturing the transits of Io, Europa, and their shadows. As I have said, I was blessed with a very enjoyable night. There were a couple equipment problems, but nothing major. After the initial setup and I began capturing files, I relaxed a little bit and was able to look around. It’s very peaceful, out there in a field by yourself under the stars. It gives me opportunity to praise God who made them. My wonder for creation is turned into love for the Creator.

By the time my laptop battery was about to die, I had capture 33 gigabytes of data. Today I was able to process all of that and turn it into some images. I ended up with 14 frames, which I was able to turn into a time-lapse animation. Each one came from a 10% stack from a 10,000 frame video. I also made a collage of 3 frames spaced about 20 minutes apart, which you see above.

And here is the time lapse.

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