Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Celestial Dance of Jupiter and the Moon

Few things could get your blogger out in single digit air temperatures and even crueler wind chills in the middle of a January winter night.  However, sometimes nature puts on a celestial show worth taking the time and extra layer of clothes to check out!  Tonight the largest planet in our solar system, Jupiter will be exceptionally close to the moon and make for an interesting view you won't be seeing again any time soon.  Jupiter won't appear this close to the moon again until 2026 so I hope you got the chance to check it out!  Those living in South America will, weather permitting, have the unique opportunity to watch the occultation of Jupiter; meaning the large gaseous planet will pass behind the moon and re-emerge an hour or so later.

Waxing Gibbous moon at 80% full with Jupiter to the right

I decided to brave the chill and take my limited experience and equipment out into the night to see what kind of photograph I could capture.  I only had my 300mm telephoto lens to work with but in the end I think the results turned out halfway decent in the photograph above.  It's hard to fathom that little white dot on the right is hundreds of millions of miles away and substantially larger than our own precious home world.  Jupiter is over 1,300 times more voluminous than Earth and has a mass more than 300 times greater.  In fact, Jupiter's mass alone is 2.5 greater than all the other planets of our solar system combined.  I'd like to think a day will come when a human being will be able to look out their window and see this mighty planet in full view before them as their spacecraft zooms on by...

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