Monday, August 16, 2010

Back From Holiday!

I'm catching up on work for my real job today, but I wanted to share with you a picture of the Milky Way I snapped while I was gone. Take a look:

This photo was taken on my Nikon D5000 with a 30 second exposure, wide aperture and 3200 ISO. Brightness and contrast have been manipulated to highlight detail.

I spent the evenings looking at the Milky Way in the southern sky, observing Venus half-lit and Saturn in the west around twilight, and Jupiter rising later in the eastern sky. We could see a distinct band of red clouds around Jupiter, and the four Galilean satellites shining brilliantly. One night, I was thrilled to see an object that I took to be Amalthea (Jupiter V), a small moon interior to the big four, discovered by E. E. Barnard in 1892. It was the highlight of my observations, but I'm forced to confront the possibility that it may have been just a faint background star, as the moon's apparent magnitude seems to be just a hair beyond my telescope's theoretical limits (the other 58 known moons of Jupiter are far too faint to be seen in my modest reflector). It's possible that Amalthea is really what I saw, but I'm afraid the evidence is not conclusive. Ah well.

Unfortunately, the transit of Jupiter's Great Red Spot came at inconvenient times, but of course the Perseid meteor shower was a delight. We were fortunate to have dark skies, though by the end of the week the crescent Moon had begun to creep up in the west.

If it's a clear sky tonight, take a look up.

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