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Nigeyboy

An Evening With The Giants!

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Hi all,

So last night was clear for the first time in what seems like ages! I set up my 150-PL outside while it was still light. Not to cool as it was very warm last night! Think it was warmer outside the house than it was inside!

The Moon was well up, but quite low over the roof of a house across the street. I spent perhaps 10-15 minutes looking, but the seeing was rough, and due to the phase, it was pretty dang bright! I did spend some time at high-ish power on my favourite Lunar formation - the Sinus Iridium and surrounding area! It was in full, if low illumination last night, and despite the shimmering it was a beautiful site as ever.

I then turned my scope on Jupiter - my main target for last night. From my garden, Jupiter is fairly low, but the general direction is clear of house roofs etc. While the seeing wasn't the best, there were periods where it settled down, and the image became as steady as you like. I started off at low mag of 48x with just my 25mm. I spent quite some time letting my eye tease out detail in the cloud bands. I'm pretty sure I counted 4 cloud bands.

I then popped in the 2x barlow with the 25mm. I rarely use the supplied 10mm eyepiece. The image quality is pretty rubbish to be honest. (I'm saving up for some BST ones at the moment) The four Galilean moons where widely placed - Ganymede and Io on the right, and Europa and Callisto on the left. I could make out a definite colour difference between the yellowish Io, and the Blueish Europa.  The planet at 96x though was magnificent!! I spent a good 45 minutes on it, and the longer I stayed at the eyepiece, the more detail seemed to become available to me.

At first, the cloud bands started to become more apparent. Then detail started to pop in and out of view. I could see a greyish blob just in from the limb of the planet, and realised it was the Great Red Spot! I was over the moon! I have never seen it before, and the longer I stayed looking, the more it became apparent. I checked Stellarium, and lo and behold, the spot was there, just where I was seeing it! I took a punt, and inserted the 10mm to give me 120x, and while the image of the planet was bigger, the detail was lost, so I quickly went back to the 25mm and Barlow. I spent a good 45 minutes on Jupiter, and the time was very well spent. Despite the wobbly atmosphere, during those steady times it was amazing. I'm wondering if a filter would help bring out more subtle detail? Any advise on that?

After Jupiter, I swung the scope over a few degrees to Saturn. Obviously a smaller target, but surprisingly bright in my scope. I stated at 48x, but quickly added the barlow again. The rings . . . . totally absorbing. As with Jupiter I spent a long time just observing, and during the steady periods the planet and rings became very sharp indeed. I could clearly see the Cassini Division, and - i may have been imaging it - some faint cloud detail on the planet. The gaps between ring and planet were sharp and defined. I only saw one of its moons, Titan. I checked Sky Safari, and while there are a glut of other moons, conditions meant I couldn't see them.

I contemplated staying out to catch Neptune, Uranus and Mars, but it was past midnight and I had to be up at 5:30am! Maybe this weekend if the skies remain clear!

So - the main thing I learned last night was patience. You need to spend time teasing out the details on these magnificent planets. Do that, and you will be rewarded! I saw the GRS for the first time last night!! So, it was actually the Great Grey Spot, but that didn't matter in the slightest!

Clear Skies Everyone!

Nige 

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Very enjoyable observing session it sounds like! Great write-up, a good read;)

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Good stuff Nige- sounds like you had better seeing than I had here in London but you’re definitely right that the longer you look the more you see! Strange the GRS looked grey- I was too busy looking at the moon and waiting for the ISS transit that missed (🤦‍♂️) that when I turned to Jupiter it had almost fallen off the limb.

Mark

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Posted (edited)

Great report, thanks for sharing! Yes, it's all about taking the time to really study a target to discern a wonderful amount of detail invisible at first glance. And when the atmosphere suddenly steadies.... wow!! :)

Edited by Waddensky
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12 minutes ago, markse68 said:

I was too busy looking at the moon and waiting for the ISS transit that missed

I saw that totally by chance! Saw it coming over, and thought to myself 'thats going to pass in front of the moon!', but from where I was in Derby, it passed perhaps a moons diameter below! Shame!!

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That's a great report Nige and just the kind of thing you can look back on and compare with later observations. What size scope were you using?

 

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9 hours ago, Starwatcher2001 said:

That's a great report Nige and just the kind of thing you can look back on and compare with later observations. What size scope were you using?

 

Thanks. I have a Skywatcher 150-PL on the standard EQ3-2. 

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