Monday, 13 July 2015

Galilean moons

Now that all the excitement over the conjunction between Jupiter and Venus in our evening skies is over, my attention is drawn to Jupiter itself. This is by far the biggest planet in our solar system but because of its immense distance from us, it appears rather small in our sight. And of course, it is far dimmer than the much brighter Venus.

I did notice both Jupiter and Venus last night because it happened to be a very clear night. Venus had already drawn a considerable distance away but still, there was no mistaking them. I turned my sights on Jupiter.

Already during the conjunction, I had noticed two tiny specks of light on opposite sides of Jupiter when I cropped the picture I took with the Olympus EPL-7 camera. Two tiny specks of light which I found out later were two of the four Galilean moons that were discovered by Galileo. But I had no opportunity of determining which was which because, frankly, I did not know.

Last night, I decided to mount the camera on a sturdy tripod and turned it towards the planet with the zoom lens pulled out to its biggest magnification: 150mm on the four-thirds camera. I took various exposures with this set-up, copied the images to the computer for some digital manipulation and this happened to be the clearest image among all those taken:

I was a bit flabbergasted. Oh, wow. For the first time, I saw four smudgy light sources, the four small Galilean satellites around Jupiter, two on separate sides of the great planet. Oh, wow, again! All that, taken with this little humble camera of mine. I must say: it's really incredible, the optics.

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