Conjunction Junction

Moon And Jupiter 2013 01 21:idea:
Last night or early this morning, depending on what you want to call 12:15am, I saw an amazing thing in the night sky.

Early in the evening, after work, it was so hazy it was almost impossible to see any stars, so I had no thought of taking out the telescope. The Moon was just a bright, fuzzy glow. A bit later in the evening the haze had dispersed a bit, but it was still difficult to see anything but the brightest stars with the naked eye. The Moon had a wonderful large mist ring around it, which happens when there are fine clouds or ice crystals in the upper atmosphere that refract the reflected light of the Moon.

Still later in the evening or as I said, early in the morning, the atmosphere had cleared a little bit more. Right next to the Moon was Jupiter. They were as close to conjunction as possible, Jupiter being only about two degrees from being eclipsed by the Moon, a distance from the Moon that was about the apparent size of the Moon.

I quickly pulled out my telescope. Due to the haze I knew I had no chance of a detail viewing, but I wanted to see what was possible. The image shown is a composite that I put together that shows fairly well what I saw, minus the haze, which only brightened the overall view and lowered the contrast a little bit.

Using my 17mm eyepiece, which means about 25x power, I was able to get both the Moon and Jupiter in view at the same time. I was also able to see three of Jupiter’s largest moons. I probably could have seen four had it not been for the haze, and as long as the fourth moon was not in front of Jupiter.

I have adjusted the image so it is in the orientation I saw threw my telescope, which is a Newtonian (Reflector) telescope. As such, it is actually inverted from reality. That is, it is flipped upside down and flipped horizontally (left to right). So, if you looked up at the sky at the same time I was looking, you would have seen the shadow of the Moon on the top, with Jupiter to the right, and with the two little moons near the bottom and the third moon at the top if you could see those moons with the naked eye, which you cannot.

Despite the haze, it was still way cool. ;)

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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