Observing Report – 9th November 2009

With a clear sky forecast for the night I decided to make the most of the great conditions.

First thing I wanted to observe tonight was the Galilean moon Io disappearing behind Jupiter at 8:05pm. The problem was that it was only then that I looked at my watch and saw that it was 7:53pm and that I had 12 minutes to setup the scope outside before the moon disappeared behind Jupiter.

Jupiter 091109

Jupiter, Ganymede and Europa (Click to Enlarge)

Well I managed to get the scope out and connect the 12 volt battery to the scope, do a solar system alignment for the scope’s computerised tracking system and get Jupiter and it’s 4 visible moons lined up in the eyepiece. My telescope was now tracking Jupiter and all I had to do was connect the camera and I was set to take some pictures.

This all got down by 8:03pm.

But there was a problem. The Sun had only set about 30 minutes before and the sky was still light. When I looked up at Jupiter with out a telescope, I could see the white point of light directly above me against a darkening blue sky. The interesting thing was that when I looked at Jupiter through the eyepiece, instead of a dark blue sky Jupiter was instead surrounded by a black sky. I will leave it up to you to try and explain why the sky was black in the telescope and actually blue when I looked up with the naked eye.

Anyway…… the problem I had was severe light pollution in the area so I was going to have to make the most of it. I snapped off several images with my digital camera and managed to capture Jupiter and 2 of it’s moons….. Europa and Ganymede…the lattern being the furthest one out. The moon Io was too close to Jupiter and I wasn’t able to seperate it from the planet in the image.

Surprisingly, even though I could see Jupiter and 3 moons in the eyepiece, only 2 moons were being captured by the camera. For some reason Callisto which has almost the same brightness as Ganymede and Europa was not in the space where it should have been. I found that interesting as I took over 10 images and not once did Callisto appear on the camera…yet it was bright as ever in the eye piece.

If you look real close at the picture of Jupiter above, you may be able to make out the single diagonal cloud band I could see in the scope…… but the image is not that great when it comes to detail.

Observation 091109

(Click to Enlarge)

Anyway, I then decided to try my hand at finding Neptune which was close in proximity in the sky to Jupiter. If you look at the picture on the left you will see Neptune is to the right of 3 stars which happen to be called 42, 44 and 45 Capricorni respectively. With these 3 stars in a pattern like this I thought it would be simple to find Neptune using these stars.

Sadly, I could not locate the 3 Capricorni stars which had apparent magnitudes ranging from +5 to +6.   I put this down to the sky pollution disrupting my viewing so I gave up looking for Neptune which was a fainter +7.89.

I then decided to finish up the evening by observing a bright star called Deneb Algiedi and a double star called Sadal Suud. These two objects along with Jupiter formed a nice triangle ( as shown in the picture) of easily visible objects in a sky effected badly by light pollution.  Deneb Algiedi is actually a quaternary star system system 39 light years away whose primary star is a white giant. Sadal Suud is actually much further away at  610 light years from Earth and is a member of a group of stars called yellow super giants.

I was getting a little tired so I was almost ready to wrap up the observing session for the night…… but I did focus on the double star and noted that even with it’s magnitude of +2.87 I was not able to see the 2 individual stars which made up this double star.

Now I put this down to my rapid setup of my telescope earlier in the evening and the fact that I had not collimated my telescope as I should have.

All in all it was a good night for observing but I was a little disappointed by additional light pollution in my area and I really should have collimated my telescope ahead of time and not being so rushed.

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~ by sydneystargazers on November 10, 2009.

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