The Night Sky

Just got back from a couple of chilly hours on Cefn Bryn, where I had originally gone to take some photos of the trails of light left by cars as they driver across the North Gower road. But when I parked up, the night sky was so magnificently clear that I abandoned the plan and set about taking some photos of the stars instead. I used long exposures of up to 10 minutes at a time and played around with the settings on the camera and came away with a set of photos I was very happy with.

The Milky Way

The Milky Way, a concentration of stars as we look through the plane of our own galaxy.

The Night Sky

The glow from Swansea's street lighting silhouettes a car on Cefn Bryn. Jupiter is the bright light on the right.

Star Trails

Star trails centred on Polaris, with the glow from Llanelli lighting up the horizon.

Jupiter Again, Again

We’ve had a couple of clear nights recently so I decided to get the telescope out again and have a look at Jupiter. It was very clear and on two nights in a row I was able to use quite a high magnification to see a lot of detail on the planet’s surface. The four Galilean moons were clearly visible and on the fist night, one of them, was silhouetted against Jupiter’s disc as it passed between the planet and me.

On the second night, I got the CCD camera out and plugged it on to the laptop. I spent about an hour recording video and this time I was even able to record two of the four moons visible. In the photo, you can see Europa on top and Io beneath it.

Jupiter with Io and Europa

Jupiter with Europa and Io

In my previous post about Jupiter, I said you could see the red spot on the planet’s surface in the photo. I was mistaken and that blemish seems to be something to do with the images I took. In this photo, you can clearly see a darker blob in the lower cloud band but I’m still not 100% sure it’s the spot.

The spot is a storm that has been blowing for at least 200 years and should be visible from earth based telescopes. It’s a massive storm – 25,000km by 15,000km but it varies over time.

It revolves around the planet once every 12 days, so I may have been unlucky when observing. I shall keep trying.

Jupiter Again

I’ve just spent about half an hour staring into the night sky through the telescope at Jupiter. It’s the brightest object in the sky at the moment, almost due East and well above the rooftops. Clearly visible in a line and coinciding with Jupiter’s equator were the moons Calisto, Io, Europa and Ganymede. I could even see the two prominent bands of cloud either side of Jupiter’s equator. No red spot, though. It was around the other side of the planet tonight.

The haze and air quality prevented me from seeing more detail and higher magnification, and it was very windy so the telescope was moving about quite a bit. But I am still captivated by this planet, possibly more so than I was with Saturn when that was visible.

Just thought I’d share that with you.




Last night, as I was going to bed, I spotted Jupiter from my bedroom window. The weather has been poor recently and clear skies have been rare so I decided to get the telescope out to have a look. The viewing was really good; I was surprised at how clear the planet was despite the haze that had been around all day. I could clearly see the two main cloud bands either side of the equator, and the four Gallilean moons, Ganymeade, Io, Callista and Europa.



There was no sign of cloud in the sky, so I decided to have a go at imaging the planet too. I’ve only just started trying to photograph the planets through the telescope and it’s not a simple process. Recording the image is only the first step. There’s a lot of processing involved because the image is captured as a series of video frames – this helps to eliminate the effects of the Earth’s atmosphere. Each frame is then aligned and stacked to form the final image.

There are a lot of parameters in the software and I’m still coming to grips with them. Nevertheless, I’ve added my first attempt here . One detail on the picture that I didn’t see through the eyepiece is the red spot, although it appears as a faint dark blue blob at about 9 o’clock in this image. I’m not sure what caused the blue tinge. I suspect it’s something to do with the atmospherics as it appeared like this on the screen as I was capturing it.

Jupiter is between 400 and 576 million miles from Earth. My image doesn’t compare with the published photos in magazines or on the net, but I’m pleased with it as a first stab.