The Half-Astrophysicist Blog

Some Year End/New Year Photos

Just a few photos for you. First, from New Year’s Eve, the glow of sunset, Venus near the horizon, the Moon and Jupiter (above and left of the Moon) taken with my fisheye lens.

Next a green flash from the setting Sun with the telescopes of Kitt Peak visible on the mountain just to the left.

A post Sunset shot of Kitt Peak.

Finally, Venus setting over saguaros near the bottom of the Catalina Highway.

Here’s to a great 2012!


January 2, 2012 Posted by | Atmospheric Physics, Green Flash, Pretty Pictures | Leave a comment

Can You Spy Jupiter During the Day?

Other than the Sun and the Moon, it is challenging to see astronomical objects during the day. Venus is commonly seen during the day (and I will blog about it soon as it is becoming well positioned for daytime sightings). Jupiter is the other object that can occasionally be glimpsed during the day, but it is very challenging.

Fortunately, the Moon makes a close pass near Jupiter on January 2nd giving you a bit of help in this challenging observation. I recommend using a program such as Stellarium to make a finder chart for your particular location and time. Your best bet is late afternoon when the Moon and Jupiter have risen high enough in the east to make them easier to see. Here is a chart for Tucson at about 4pm tomorrow (the Moon moves about one Moon diameter per hour, so if you are observing several hours earlier or later, you might want to make a chart for yourself!)

Start by finding the Moon. You need to focus your eyes at infinity to have any chance of seeing Jupiter and the Moon is close enough to infinity that you can use it. Slowly scan toward the Jupiter. You have to look DIRECTLY at Jupiter to see it (that is Jupiter must be focused on the fovea, the center of your retina where you have the most sensitive vision) and it will pop into view. If you are off just a little bit, you won’t see it so this observation takes some patience! Some people find it is easier to wait until the Sun is almost going down, but I like the challenge of the fully illuminated sky!

It is much easier to take a pic of Jupiter during the day. Zoom in on the Moon (but not too far) and take a short exposure. Examine it closely on your computer screen to find Jupiter.

I have seen Jupiter during the day several times. It takes practice but is possible. If you are successful, you will join a fairly small and select group who have achieved this challenging observation.

January 2, 2012 Posted by | Daytime Astronomy, Observing, Solar System | 1 Comment