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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Jupiter from Rome (and from Mars)

I was up earlier than usual this morning and decided to do some planetary astronomy from the Eternal City. The Heavens Above web site showed Jupiter high in the pre-dawn sky. A quick look out the window confirmed that from our courtyard it would be clear of the Trastevere rooftops. Soon the six inch Dobsonian Newtonian reflector was in operation. I got a very nice view of Jupiter and the four Galilean moons through fairly clear Roman skies.

The view was similar to that of the picture above. There are a lot of better shots of Jupiter available on the 'net, but this one is a bit unusual. It was taken from Mars:

Jupiter/Galilean Satellites: When Galileo first turned his telescope toward Jupiter four centuries ago, he saw that the giant planet had four large satellites, or moons. These, the largest of dozens of moons that orbit Jupiter, later became known as the Galilean satellites. The larger two, Callisto and Ganymede, are roughly the size of the planet Mercury; the smallest, Io and Europa, are approximately the size of Earth's Moon. This MGS MOC image, obtained from Mars orbit on 8 May 2003, shows Jupiter and three of the four Galilean satellites: Callisto, Ganymede, and Europa. At the time, Io was behind Jupiter as seen from Mars, and Jupiter's giant red spot had rotated out of view. This image has been specially processed to show both Jupiter and its satellites, since Jupiter, at an apparent magnitude of -1.8, was much brighter than the three satellites.

Text and image from:

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