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Geoff Barnes

Sunny Jupiter

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Got home from work in bright sunshine (the evenings are drawing out a lot now), and was aware that (a) the GRS was visible and (b) the forecast was for gales this evening, so decided to have a quick look before dark. With the sun low in the west shining brilliantly I knew spotting Jupiter would be a difficult task, so aligned the GoTo 12 inch Dobb on the rising moon and then sent it off to find Jupiter. At 71 degrees altitude it was more or less directly above my head and the GoTo is a bit hit and miss when nearly vertical. It ended up a fair way off target but I soon found it via the 9x50 finder and centred the Dob on it using the Baader 8-24mm zoom on low power. It appeared surprisingly bright despite it being broad daylight and the background sky very pale blue, I could barely make out much detail and certainly no sign of any moons at 64x. Zooming in up to 8mm (187x) revealed astonishing detail, the colours of the GRS and the main belts were more intense than I think I'd ever seen them, even the wide central equatorial belt was a bright yellow ochre, and the spot itself quite an intense orange/red. Three moons were clearly visible as pure white pinpoints, Io was behind Jupiter to start with but appeared after 20 minutes to complete the quartet.

I kept observing for about half an hour by which time high cloud and increasing wind persuaded me to pack up, but it was one of the best short sessions I've had in a long time and just shows that us astronomers need not have to wait until darkness falls to enjoy our hobby.

(Solar viewers aside that is, though there won't be much for them to get excited about for another couple of years when solar Cycle 25 starts up).

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