Friday 24 September 2010

The Moon, Jupiter and Galileoscope

Last night I went out to look at the pretty much full moon. It was really bright last night! Illuminating the garden enough to easily read a book by.

Whilst looking at the moon, Jupiter was VERY visible to the lower right of the moon, less than a fist's width away! Was an awesome sight. Jupiter has just (in the last few days) passed a point where it was closest to Earth for some years and is just past opposition.

The Moon and Jupiter. Poor photo taken with my phone.
Click to Enlarge

I couldn't get over how bright Jupiter was so I did what any good geek would do and got my binoculars out. Whilst collecting my binoculars I thought, hmm, may as well grab my Galiliescope as well.

I bought the Galileoscope last year when they first started releasing them. I have had a few plays with it but not a lot. I only have a camera tripod (which is better than no tripod!) and keeping it steady and navigating the sky can be tricky. But I have seen Mars through it and also had a nice view of the Orion Nebula. The Orion Nebula was definitely recognisable as a cloudy splurge, which was enough to get me excited and Mars was still just a round dot, but it was nevertheless a disc as opposed to just a point of light. Also it was a bit 'salmony' pink in colour, making it definitely more than just a star (by star I just mean point of light).

But last night, I looked at Jupiter firstly with my binos and even though it was hard to hold them steady, I could definitely detect it was a disc not a point of light. And I could also, for the first time, distinguish what looked like a moon of Jupiter to it's side!! I was amazed that I could make that out with just my binos!

So I got the Galileoscope quickly set up and pointed it at Jupiter. It was tricky getting the telescope to point at Jupiter, firstly to actually aim it at it and secondly to finely adjust the direction it was pointing was impossible with my camera tripod. It was a case of squeezing it in the direction I wanted to move, over-shoot, knowing it would spring back to where I want. Not very clever but all I could manage. Also, I had to ensure no single part of me touched the scope or tripod as it just wobbled like mad.

But it was worth it! I got a view of Jupiter through the scope and was able to distinguish definitely three of the four Galilean (quite fitting with my scope) moons! I was again amazed. Not only could I make out the moons, but I could also just about make out a band roughly around Jupiter's equator!!! It was mostly a bright white disc, but definitely with a slightly darker band around the middle.

I was chuffed! Can easily see why people get the bug and want bigger and better telescopes all the time. I will definitely, when life/finances allow, get myself a decent telescope one day.