Archive for the ‘Jupiter’ Category

17 June 2012

Woke up this morning and looked out of Bedroom Observatory. There was the crescent Moon hanging off the palm tree like a slice of silver fruit!

Crescent Moon

Crescent Moon (Click on image to enlarge)

I moved to get a better view and two bright sparks came into view! Jupiter and Venus! Gorgeous! And all before sunrise!
How quickly Venus has moved across!

Crescent Moon with Jupiter and Venus

Crescent Moon with Jupiter and Venus (Click on image to enlarge)

18 June 2012

We are really out of practice of waking at 4 AM and throwing off the feather doona, our warm nest for the night.  But jump out of bed we did, and looked out of Bedroom Observatory.  The sky overhead was clear, but it was too dark to judge whether there were low clouds in the eastern horizon.  A clear horizon was crucial for today’s pre-dawn viewing.  The only way to find the answer was to check from Clifftop Observatory.  So we had a quick cuppa, rugged up, gathered our camera gear, and drove to North Bondi.  The temperature was 9 deg C, and a cold wind from the south pole was about.  From where we parked we had to climb about 100 metres, and our fingers froze holding the cold metal of the camera tripod.

When we reached Clifftop Observatory, we stood stunned, breathless and motionless.   Jupiter was lined up with the Pleiades; the new moon was below lined up with Venus.  And Venus was pretending to be the brightest object in Taurus!

Jupiter, the Moon, Venus

As the sky brightened, some of the little stars got swallowed up in the dawn light, but the main players were still there, keeping us riveted.

Jupiter, the Moon and Venus

Jupiter, the Moon and Venus (Click on image to enlarge)

Before we left, a photo with our favourite tree and my favourite man was mandatory!

Dom the tree and the planets

Dom the tree and the planets (Click on the image to enlarge)

When we came home, we could still see the triangle of Jupiter, Moon and Venus over the roof of our house. 

Final look at Jupiter, the Moon and Venus

Final look at Jupiter, the Moon and Venus (Click on image to enlarge)

The weather man says the rain has gone to Spain for a few days.  So here’s cheers to clear weather and more good viewing.


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Tuesday 13 March. 

Before sunset we drove to a spot from where we hoped to get Jupiter and Venus smiling over downtown Sydney. It’s a place we pass daily and notice the fine view of the city skyline. (I’ve always wanted to catch the sunset from there, because Bondi is good for sunrises, but not sunsets.) At 7.30 pm the scene was splendid.

City skyline at sunset

City skyline at sunset (click on image to enlarge)

We waited for Jupiter and Venus to make an appearance and though the sky was darkening there was no sign of the heavenly pair. We soon realized it was because we weren’t quite in line for the western sky, so we moved around and then spotted them. They looked magnificent.

Jupiter and Venus over city of Sydney skyline

What looks like a good viewing spot in the day, does not necessarily turn out to be the best place for a photograph. The location is a bus terminus, and the blaze of lights was overpowering. We quickly decided to go further into the city to Woolloomooloo, a suburb from where the city buildings against the western sky are impressive at night. Time was passing – getting on to 8.45, but we hoped we’d catch J and V before they disappeared from sight.

We were just in time – only just! Can you spot them Jupiter and Venus in the next photo?

Jupiter and Venus between buildings of the city of Sydney

Jupiter and Venus between buildings of the city of Sydney (click on image to enlarge)

I vowed to keep following the planets, and the next time to look at them through binocs and telescope to study detail. Where were Jupiter’s Moons? Where was Titan, Saturn’s moon? Could I see the polar ice-cap on Mars? Could I see any detail on Jupiter, Venus?

The capricious sky gods have not obliged.  They’re back to their pastime of spreading clouds and pouring buckets of rain.

Meanwhile, the heavenly pair, who (from our viewpoint) were at their closest on March 14, are drifting apart.

See http://www.sydneyobservatory.com.au/2012/the-two-brightest-planets-in-the-sky-venus-and-saturn-have-a-spectacular-conjunction-in-march-2012/

for Dr Nick Lomb’s explanation of the movements of Jupiter and Venus this month.

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12 Mar 2012

Lately we have been getting an occasional glimpse of bright planets between clouds.

This evening a friend from Melbourne, who is also enthused about celestial happenings, excitedly rang to read us an item on the movements of Jupiter and Venus in the western sky. Thanks to that reminder we went out into Street Observatory at 8 o’clock. Our street runs east to west.

We had to walk up the street a little and stand near the middle of a traffic lane to get the best view.  Fortunately traffic was light, and Dom had a red torch to warn oncoming cars.  We looked west and beheld Venus and Jupiter – beautiful and bright.

As Greg, my mentor said, “Despite all my fascination with telescopes, I still get a thrill out of simply seeing the planets in the night sky and watching them change positions. It helps – for me, anyways – to understand what’s going on ‘backstage’. But people need to rediscover what you have found – simply look up at night – it’s a great show, we spend too much time in our caves!”

Venus and Jupiter on 12th March 2012

Venus and Jupiter on 12th March 2012 (Click on image to enlarge)

Having had our fill of Jupiter and Venus in the backdrop to our street, we folded the tripod and turned towards home. The celestial backdrop continued to the north.  We recognized Mars above the roof line of houses. Placing the tripod on a neighbour’s driveway I was focusing on Mars when a car stopped and the driver leaned out and said, “What are you photographing?” just in case we were spying into someone’s window.

“Mars”, Dom told the astonished man, “Right over the roof there!”

“So it is,” he said. “And it is red! Wow!”

Mars on 12th March 2012

Mars on 12th March 2012 (Click on image to enlarge)

We turned again and looked the other way downFrancis Street and lo and behold! The Cross and Pointers were looking down on us!

Southern Cross and Pointers

Southern Cross and Pointers (Click on image to enlarge)

I thought, hopefully, “Maybe at last, good sky watching times are here!”

After processing the photographs, I went to Bedroom Observatory at about 11 pm. Another planet, this time Saturn with the star Spica in Virgo were shining due east. Looking further east was the bright glow of the Gibbous Moon. I grabbed the binoculars and noticed that the angle of light had the section between Tycho and Mare Nectaris clearly outlining the craters.  I had not seen the SE sector so clearly. Craters everywhere. Several caught my eye and I tried to memorize their positions. Though the angle was awkward for the camera, I had to get a shot.

Gibbous Moon

Gibbous Moon (click on image to enlarge)

Dom and I pondered over the map a long while to identify Theophilus with the imposing central mountain. Tucked into the side of  Theophilus,  is Cyrillus.  The third in this neat threesome on the banks of Mare Nectaris is Catharina. The map is beautiful, but oh! how much more gorgeous is the real thing especially when the craters are in 3D.

Oh! what a night!

I need to spend more time studying some of the other craters that were clearly in the light.

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