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Jupiter/Neptune conjunction

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#1 Patricko

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 04:46 PM

Hi girls and guys,

Got up at 4:30am this morning to step outside to an amazing sky. Jupiter shown brightly to the SSE and Venus was ablaze low in the E occupying a pre-dawn sky. Conditions were clear, calm, and no Moon was present. The Milky-Way spanned the width of the sky from horizon to horizon.

Quickly I setup my refractor, a 120mm f/8.3 mass-produced achromat on a modified Alt-Az mount. Seeing was really steady considering it rained heavily yesterday and the transparency was an easy 8/10. As I made note of the conditions the refractor was quickly pointed toward Jupiter with a 25mm Plossl for a power of 40x. Even at this low magnification plenty of detail was readily apparent on Jupiter.

Making note of the main bands and 4 bright moons I upped the power to 111x, then to 167x to be treated to a perfect view. A view that nature can only give. Io was just of to the East of the great gas giant, its disk nearly touching the gassy world‘s atmosphere. Seeing this massive world early this morning brought back another occasion a few years back when I had a 91mm Triplet APO observing the planet at similar magnifications.

Comparing my notes I was surprised to see that the simple achromat had blown away the detail seen in the APO on its best night that I recorded! No words can express the view, so I'll leave it up to the imagination. I counted 8 belts, 7 zones and the polar regions. No, the GRS was not seen.

To the NE less than a degree away was Neptune. Even at 167x all I could make out was the planets disk; however, seeing Neptune so close to Jupiter in the sky was really cool. With the 25mm Plossl (40x) they (Jupiter w/ 4 moons, Neptune, and 5th magnitude star HIP 108036) all fit in the FOV! Definitely worth getting up for if you can.

The sky was now getting quite bright so I swung over to Venus. At 167x with the 6mm orthroscopic textures appeared on the brilliantly bright yellow/tan atmosphere of Earth’s twin. I watched this world for several minutes at this power before packing up and heading inside. All-in-all a great time was had!

#2 Dean Norris

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 06:32 PM

Patrick, Sounds like a memorable event. Good for you. My weather didn't cooperate, fog once again. I hope to see the 2 planets soon. Thanks for your descriptive post.
Dean

#3 nirvanix

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 11:14 PM

Great report Patricko, almost poetic. Must have been a helluva view.
I've come to realize that a moderate instrument in excellent seeing can outperform an excellent scope in moderate seeing. Sounds like you experienced that last night.

#4 Special Ed

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Posted 26 May 2009 - 05:23 AM

Patricko,

Thanks for sharing your observations--you had a special morning.

To the NE less than a degree away was Neptune. Even at 167x all I could make out was the planets disk; however, seeing Neptune so close to Jupiter in the sky was really cool. With the 25mm Plossl (40x) they (Jupiter w/ 4 moons, Neptune, and 5th magnitude star HIP 108036) all fit in the FOV! Definitely worth getting up for if you can.


It's not often that one gets a chance to experience the solar system in 3 dimensions this well. Imagine Jupiter 5 AU away with Neptune over the King's shoulder almost 30 AU distant. :cool:

#5 Patricko

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Posted 26 May 2009 - 09:51 AM

Hi everyone, thank you for the nice comments. I hope everyone will have a chance to see this.:cool:

#6 Centaur

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Posted 28 May 2009 - 12:03 AM

Thanks for the mention of the Jupiter/Neptune conjunction, Patricko. Below is a graphic I created to illustrate the total occultation of Neptune by Jupiter in 1613. I’ve employed a fictional X-ray vision to show where Neptune was behind Jupiter. Galileo missed an opportunity to become the first person to witness a mutual occultation or transit between planets. Of course, Neptune had not yet been discovered. Although Galileo had marked it as a star on his diagrams of Jupiter and its satellites.

Actually, only one person has ever reported witnessing a similar event. That was John Bevis at the Royal Greenwich Observatory who in 1737 observed Venus while it was occulting Mercury. He missed the actual immersion due to passing clouds, and the pair set before emersion. Further down is my illustration of that event, again employing a fictional X-ray vision.


Posted Image


Posted Image

#7 Special Ed

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Posted 30 May 2009 - 06:03 AM

Hi,

I thought I'd add a drawing I made this morning of Jupiter and Neptune to this thread. I didn't think I'd get to see the two together--it's been clouds and rain here for days but cleared some overnight so I grabbed the Astroscan and ran out on the porch about 5 AM local time.

An 8.8 magnitude star was masquerading as one of the Gallilean moons. I found out later that Europa had just begun to transit across the Jovian disk (and its shadow had just egressed).

Neptune appeared stellar to me in the ep. Twilight was gaining fast and washing out everything so I did not detect any color when I observed the blue gas giant. It doesn't look much like a giant planet compared to Jupiter, but that's understandable when you consider that it is 25 AU further away than the King. :)

BTW, thanks to Curt for posting the "x-ray vision" graphics. This is the year to take every opportunity to pay tribute to Galileo, the Godfather of visual observers. :bow: Also, it's easy to see from my sketch why Galileo would mark Neptune down as a star, especially since he only had 30x magnification.

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#8 Kris.

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Posted 30 May 2009 - 12:55 PM

interesting topic! this morning i dragged myself out of bed at 4 local time to see if i could catch a glimpse of mars already around 5 or maybe 5:30. though i saw both venus and jupiter (thru the scope also) i've come to realize mars is waaay to faint to detect during twilight (it may be possible with a goto, i don't know). too bad the seeing was just horrific, jupiter was one ball of flames.

if i read this post earlier i sure would've tried looking for Neptune too. i've never seen neptune or pluto!

has anyone got a glimpse of mars yet?

#9 Special Ed

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Posted 30 May 2009 - 01:41 PM

Hi Kris,

Long time, no talk--hope you are well. I've read that there is still a chance to see Jupiter and Neptune this close until June 2nd--maybe you'll get another opportunity.

It starts getting bright so early now that Mars would be tough--I think it rises about 4:00 AM local time and would only be up ~8° when twilight starts to interfere. It is ~5° NNE of Venus.

#10 Don Allen

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Posted 30 May 2009 - 06:00 PM

Thanks for the post, I was up at 4 am this morning..could not sleep.....hopefully I woun't be able to sleep this morning as well..hope to see both.

#11 CarlosEH

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Posted 30 May 2009 - 06:54 PM

Michael,

An excellent low power observation showing Jupiter (and it's satellites) and Neptune in the same field. It must been exciting to think that you experienced a view similar to Galileo's long ago. Thank you for sharing it with us all.

The famous Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) is believed to have observed Neptune in the same field of view as Jupiter on the night of December 27, 1612. Jupiter and Neptune at that time were separated by 16.5 arc-minutes. The typical Galilean telescope employed a plano-convex objective focal length between 30-40 inches and stopped down between 0.5-1.0 inches), a plano-concave ocular with a focal length of 2 inches. Galileo typically used magnifications between 15-20x for his observations (he may have used up to 32x but such an instrument would have proved too shaky with a small field). All of these facts make his monumental observations all the more impressive.

An image below from Starry Night which shows the positions of Jupiter and Neptune on the night of December 27, 1612.

Links;
http://en.wikipedia....Galileo_Galilei
http://galileo.rice.edu/
http://www.dioi.org/Kowal-Galileo.pdf
http://www.nineplane...rg/neptune.html
http://galileotelesc...scopeoptics.htm

Carlos

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#12 Kris.

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Posted 31 May 2009 - 05:40 AM

Hi Michael,

the lack of planets high enough in the sky, at a reasonable hour (except Saturn then) and deepsky not nearly interesting me as much as planets do, has pushed my scope viewing a bit to the background. but as you can see, i'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of Mars :grin:

perhaps i'll get another go at Jupiter and neptune monday-morning, the weather predictions don't look too bad...

It is ~5° NNE of Venus.


according to HNSKY planetarium, Mars is ~5° to the left of Venus, and just a trifle lower in the sky. isn't that to the west then:question:

i was dissapointed not to see Mars saturday morning because i have just enough clear sky through the trees and houses to the east to see venus, and the position mars ought to be, from our backyard! i spent nearly half an hour scanning and rescanning the place where mars should've been, but by then the sun was just rising and i gave up :p

#13 Special Ed

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Posted 01 June 2009 - 05:32 AM

Michael,

An excellent low power observation showing Jupiter (and it's satellites) and Neptune in the same field. It must been exciting to think that you experienced a view similar to Galileo's long ago. Thank you for sharing it with us all.


Carlos,
Thanks for the kind words about my sketch and the additional info and links about Galileo. You're right, it is exciting to see something like he saw it, even if it is just an approximation of Galileo's observations. More humbling are the accurate conclusions Galileo made from his skillful observations of the heavens.


It is ~5° NNE of Venus.


according to HNSKY planetarium, Mars is ~5° to the left of Venus, and just a trifle lower in the sky. isn't that to the west then:question:


Kris,
If you are facing east and Mars is below rising Venus, then it is east of Venus. :)

#14 NorthWolf

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Posted 06 June 2009 - 03:14 AM

Sweet, I just saw Jupiter and 4 of it's moons and another object wich must have been Neptune, at 240x with a Pentax XW5mm, that's so cool. Will try to focus more on Neptune on the next clear night.

#15 Special Ed

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Posted 06 June 2009 - 08:23 AM

Northwolf,

Well, I hope the object that you saw was Neptune, but was it in the same FOV as Jupiter? If it was then the object probably wasn't Neptune. That eyepiece at 254x has a true FOV of about 17 arcminutes and the Jupiter/Neptune separation this morning was 36 arcminutes with Neptune to the NW of the King. What do you think?

#16 caheaton

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Posted 06 June 2009 - 02:45 PM

Stayed up late last night to observe Neptune in the early AM hours. Conditions here weren't very good...a very thin haze had settled in so that Jupiter had a very light halo, but I was still able to make out the 4 Galilean moons and the two primary belts. But Neptune was my primary target...it's the last planet I had yet to observe so that I could say "I've seen them all" (thanks to Pluto getting demoted :-) ).

The two are fairly close now, just over half a degree, and they made a fine site in the 25mm eyepiece (scope is Newtonian, 900mm FL, 4.5" objective). This eyepiece delivers just over a degree in field of view.

Neptune by itself was a touch of a let down. Conditions rendered higher power nearly unusable, so Neptune remained starlike and without color. (Without the chart from Starry Night, I would have thought it just another star). Still...it was observed and for that I'm happy.
Craig

#17 NorthWolf

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Posted 06 June 2009 - 04:35 PM

Northwolf,

Well, I hope the object that you saw was Neptune, but was it in the same FOV as Jupiter? If it was then the object probably wasn't Neptune. That eyepiece at 254x has a true FOV of about 17 arcminutes and the Jupiter/Neptune separation this morning was 36 arcminutes with Neptune to the NW of the King. What do you think?


True, it couldnt have been, I had just noticed the pictures I was looking at here were dated May 28, Neptune isnt that close anymore, in that field of view rather. Will keep looking :) August-September should be better for Uranus-Neptune.

#18 Special Ed

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Posted 06 June 2009 - 05:28 PM

Too bad, Northwolf, but I'm sure you'll be successful. Use a low power ep to find Neptune and then zero in on it with more magnification. :)

Neptune will continue to be easier than normal to find and confirm since it and Jupiter will stay near each other the next few weeks (because Jupiter goes into retrograde motion in mid-June). Also Neptune will be within a half degree or less of the 5th magnitude star mu Capricorni during that period.

Craig, congratulations on your Neptune sighting. :cool:






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