This has certainly been a busy year for astronomy. Earth passed through Saturn’s ring plane which presented a rare view of the planet, nearly without its magnificent ring system. Jupiter received a rather large impact, discovered by fellow amateur astronomer Anthony Westly which inspired all of us to renew our efforts to observe and image the great planet. Now our old friend Mars is returning for an opposition early in 2010.
Unfortunately for me, I’ve been very busy with work and family and just haven’t had the time to image the planets to the extent of previous years. I did manage however to image Saturn, Jupiter and Mars, and hope to spend more time imaging as Mars approaches.
Of course I wanted to capture the great Jupiter impact event of 2009. Here’s a shot taken July 24th, which was several days after the impact event (July 19th). My site is not optimum for Jupiter at this low altitude, so the stability from heat rising from my neighbor’s roof usually softens images quite a bit.
Here’s another shot of the impact (below), taken a couple of days later, and you can see that the impact seemed to elongate somewhat. The impact was actually visible for several weeks.
Below is the most recent shot of Mars. The planet was still a tiny target, at just under 6″ of arc in this image. Currently Mars is much larger at 7″ of arc as Earth catches up to the red planet. It also rises to nearly 70 degrees high just before sunrise now which, coupled with the larger size should present much more detail. We’ve had terrible weather lately but I’m hoping to image the planet again very soon.
For the latest images, please take a look at my gallery.
Dark skies, Larry