Friday, August 7, 2009

True to form Jupiter has not disappointed this month and the weather has been pretty cooperative so far in the Mount Washington Valley. Using our 10 inch Meade Schmidt-Newtonian we've been able to get some awesome views of the planet and it's four moons, Io, Europa, and Ganymede, and Callisto. These four moons, discovered by Galileo Galilei and by Simon Marius in parallel, orbit between 400,000 and 2,000,000 km, and include some of the largest moons in the Solar System.

Odd thing is on Wednesday night August 5th I observed what I thought was a fifth moon just barely separated from Jupiter. It's alignment was consistent with the other four moon's but this was the first time I had seen it over the years of observing. I'm now beginning to wonder if it just wasn't a star aligned with the planet although I must say it did not appear to move out of view or change it's separation over the course of about an hour.

If anyone knows which moon this is I'd love to know. I did take a snap shot a while back that Alan Chaniewski was nice enough to "clean up" for me. I'm still working on the group I to0k on the 4th of this month and hope at least one of them displays that fifth "moon". Right now it doesn't look too hopeful since the camera I'm using doesn't really have the imaging capabilities to resolve the image.

Tonight is the 8th and it proves to be another good viewing night if the current weather is any indication. Looking forward to the Perseids. I've also been fooling around with a laptop and a simple Logitech webcam to see what if anything I can do with that. Here's hoping that on August 11th the skies are clear because the literature says that will be the best night for viewing Jupiter this year and there is a second bonus in that the Perseids will be active! ...The weeks best...

Happy Stargazing!!

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