The Moons of Jupiter

Tonight, Jupiter is at opposition (closest) to the Earth. Hanging in the sky well above Jupiter is the full moon. Just above and to the left is the far distant planet of Uranus. The autumnal equinox will occur in a few hours.

The sky is truly magnificent tonight. The only spoiler is a slight haze in the evening sky.

As I had heard that Jupiter would be closer than it has been since 1963 (or will be again until 2022), and that Uranus would be close by, I wanted to see what I could do with my camera.

My only long lens is the Canon 75-300mm, which is one of the lowest-end optics for Canon and I wasn’t sure what results I would get. I set up my tripod on my back deck. Barrhaven has some light pollution, but my house is close to the river and the backyard is shielded from the majority of the urban glow.

At first, I tried to get both the Moon and Jupiter in the frame. The results were disappointingly overexposed. Additionally, the moonlight was causing the haze to glow and blow out any other stars in the photo.

So I decided to focus (literally and figuratively) on Jupiter and hopefully Uranus. I tried many different exposures to see if I could see any of the disc details (such as the Great Red Spot). This was apparently beyond the abilities of the lens.

Reviewing the results on the LCD on the back of the camera, I realized that I was able to see the four Galilean moons of Jupiter. This was an expected thrill. It had not occurred to me that I would also see them. I tried to see them through the viewfinder to see them with my own eyes (well, with a little help from the 300mm lens), but I could not. I could only see them when I zoomed in the LCD screen.

The four largest moons of Jupiter : this is what Galileo saw 400 years earlier when he was discovering that the universe is not anthro-centric. This is the pleasure of finding things out

Jupiter and its moons with Uranus
Jupiter and its moons with Uranus (f/5.6, 1s, 300mm, ISO640)

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