Saturday, June 28, 2014

Jupiter and Moon Conjunction

2012 Christmas gift

I must admit that just as many people think, I also thought that astronomy was only practiced with a telescope or a pair of binoculars. But the truth is that to practice astronomy, you don’t necessarily need an instrument with a big and expensive optic set, but you do need your eyes and perhaps your glasses if your eyes are not working well. 

Some of the most important chapters in the history of Astronomy were made before XVI century when, for first time, an optical instrument was used for astronomical purposes by the Italian Galileo Galilei. By the way, before the telescope, astronomical models were developed from well thought out and measured observations of the stars and the planets.

I can say that I had not planned on adding to those structured and detailed observations made by the first astronomers, but if a night is clear enough to see the sky, I like to go out and see the sky and perhaps make a sketch of it.  I would like to add, that the naked eye view is also the best way to learn how to locate things in the sky.

The evening of December 24th was one of those few clear night skies over my city so I went up to my terrace, and saw a very cool show in the sky: the moon at its waxing gibbous phase (approximately 90%) plus a very shiny “object” at its 10 o’clock. I thought that object could be Jupiter because of its brightness and location and in fact it was Jupiter.

A few fun facts about Jupiter: it is the 4th brightest object in the sky after the Sun, the Moon and Venus and it is the biggest planet in our solar system.  

In the evening of the observation Jupiter was close to the moon by about 11 arc minutes. There was still day light, therefore it was a great show. The moon in the twilight appeared to be a magical object hooked in the sky. There was a glow of light coming from the moon that reached Jupiter and Jupiter itself had a little glow around it.  Together Jupiter and the moon were in a halo of light decorating their entire area of the sky. It was a nice show to see this conjunction; I considered it as my ultimate Christmas gift of 2012.

As the night fell, the show was still going so after I finished the sketch I took the camera (A canon power shot A 370) and tried some shots through the binoculars.  The picture at the right, shows what I got after some tries.  Jupiter was at about 16 arc minutes from the moon, and it was still touched by the moon’s glow.  

I am not a big fan of sketching the moon and it is the object I eventually look at when I don’t have a target.  And when I do look at the moon usually it is just to contemplate it. But let me tell you that, looking at the moon through the binoculars is an awesome view. It appears like an object in 3D and you can see those seas and craters as if you were close to them.  

I really enjoy sharing with you this amazing experience and hope I can receive more Christmas gifts like this.  

Please enjoy this amazing view, product of the creation of God. 


Edited by Jennifer Steinberg (editor in chief) 

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