Tuesday, September 21, 2010

jupiter, by jove!

Since we have moved to Florida, the night sky has been so much more visible than in our former city digs. I stayed up late and watched the Perseids last month and have been enjoying getting reacquainted with the night sky.

So I decided that one of my birthday presents to myself would be a telescope from Costco. It came with two lenses, one 25mm and the other 9mm. The past few nights have been a little windy (thanks to Hurricane Igor), almost too windy to keep the telescope steady, but I have been dragging it out onto the porch and catching some great glimpses of the moon.

But spurred on by the news of the proximity of the planet Jupiter to the moon this week, last night was a real treat. Thanks to my iPad Star Walk app I have been keeping track of the very visible Jupiter all month. But Monday night was really extraordinary. I was able to see a line on the planet when I put in the (larger magnification) 9mm lens as well as its four moons, all in a row.


Inspired by my dad, I then took my stargazing to the next level. My amateur astronomer father let us stay up late when we were kids to watch an eclipse or meteor shower on a telescope that he had constructed himself—well, actually my brother and I had already conked out on the couch, so he had to wake us up so we could see them. He also had a camera attachment for his telescope and took some amazing moon photos. i decided to give lunar photography a try myself. Carefully folding back the telescope lens's rubber eyepiece, I held my iPhone up to the lens and voila!

I was actually able to capture the largest planet (and its four moons), albeit tiny, in photos.

But where I was really pleasantly surprised was the quality of photos my iPhone took of the moon. The telescope can capture the ridges and shadows on the moons surface, but I never expected my iPhone to be able to as well.


I think it's safe to say that I'm over the moon at the moment ...
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