Ooo. Ahh.

Jupiter And Moons 2013 01 18:idea:
Last night was the first clear night since getting my new mount and new finder scope for my telescope. So of course I carried it to my yard and starting figuring out the new stuff.

The mount is awesome. It takes some getting use to. It is going to take some time for me to get an instinctive feel for where the pivot locks are and where the fine movement knobs end up based on where the scope is pointed. And it is going to take some time learning how to move it with the Equatorial pivots in mind. But it is awesome.

The new finder scope is fantastic. That too is going to take some time to learn how to use efficiently. My target for the night was Jupiter, which was bright and almost right overhead when I started. I kept trying to find it in my new finder scope, but much to my surprise the new finder scope made more stars visible than could be seen with the naked eye, and that threw me off. I thought I was getting close to Jupiter, only to realize I had picked up another star in the sky that I could not see without the finder scope.

I decided to just keep my eye in the finder scope and use the fine movement controls to sweep around the area I believed to be close to Jupiter. I tried to line up the telescope by sight, sort of like looking down the barrel of a rifle, to get myself pointed in the general area. Then I kept my eye in the finder scope and started turning the fine movement knobs in a search pattern.

Suddenly about eight stars in a tight little pattern appeared. If I looked up with my naked eye, I could not see a thing. I knew what it was. It was the Pleiades, a little nursery of young stars. I looked through the main scope with my 17mm eyepiece, which is about 25x magnification, and the view was full of stars. There were twenty or so stars of varying sizes and brightness in a tight little grouping. Here on the outskirts of the city the light pollution is such that you cannot see this group without binoculars or a scope, so stumbling on it was amazing and an unexpected find.

I enjoyed the Pleiades for a bit and then continued scanning for Jupiter. I took a step back from the telescope and tried to line it up by using the fine movement controls, but not looking through the finder scope. Just looking at the telescope and try to make the front of it point where I thought it should be. I took a look in the finder scope, and there it was, Jupiter, big and bright.

I centered Jupiter in the cross hairs and then looked through the main scope with the 17mm eyepiece. Not only could I see Jupiter as a bright tiny ball, I could see four of Jupiter’s moon’s as tiny little specs. I switched to my 3mm eyepiece, which is about 150x magnification. The view was awesome. The specs, four of Jupiter’s moons, turned into well-defined balls of varying size, and the color bands of Jupiter became clearly visible.

The picture shows a very close approximation of what I saw. I have tilted the image in the same orientation that I saw it, which is upside down as Newtonian telescopes show images reversed. I have also included the Equatorial tilt as I saw it. Additionally I have adjusted this image to be a little overly bright and washed out, which is more the way it appeared in my scope. I did not take the time to put my polarizing filters on, which would have highlighted the colors a bit. In addition, I do not have any color correction filters, yet, which would enhance Jupiter’s colors and show it more the way it would really appear if we were up close to it. The image is sized appropriately. That is, the entire image is about the same as what was visible through the eyepiece, as such, the size of Jupiter in the image is about the same percentage of the viewable area as I saw it.

I was able to make out five color bands in Jupiter. At times I thought I could see six, at other times I felt like I could only see four. It depended on how good the focus was at that moment, and probably on the clarity of the sky at any given moment.

The fine movement knobs were wonderful. While I would not call them jiggle free, they made keeping Jupiter in sight so very easy. I had no problem looking at the planet for far longer than I have looked at any other object, without it ever leaving the view of the scope.

Next, I want to view it using my polarizing filters, so see if I can enhance the color bands. One future desire to improve the overall system is an electronic focusing device. My biggest difficulty was getting fine focus, as my big clumsy human hands would make the scope jiggle as I tried to focus, and of course, it is hard to determine if a jiggling dot is focused, not focused, or just jiggling.

Overall, IT WAS AWESOME! I can’t wait to view more.

About Sifu Keith Mosher

My new book, "Astro Boy, Sensei, and Me" is available now, as is my Sci-Fi joy ride, "On a Sphere's Edge". I have a Bachelor of Media Arts degree from USC. I have been an Audio Producer / Engineer, a Law Office Manager, and I am currently an Author and a Martial Arts Instructor.
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