Jupiter And Moon Put On A Great Show At 18 Below

The moon and Jupiter through a 400mm telephoto lens last night around 9:30 p.m. (CST) when they were near their closest separation. You can just make out Jupiter’s disk. Photo: Bob King

Jupiter and the moon were fabulous last night. I hope you got to see them. We were clear in Duluth, Minn. though there a price to be paid in frozen fingertips. The temperature hit -18 F at my house.

Our two celebs were so close together you could easily see the moon’s motion to the east in just 20 minutes. For a change, the air was tranquil overhead, giving steady, sharp images at the telescope. Craters like Copernicus, Plato and Tycho were crisply detailed and Europa’s shadow on Jupiter’s cloud tops looked like the most perfect of points.

Five of the 11-day-old moon’s most prominent craters are visible tonight in 8x (or higher) binoculars and small telescopes. Three of them – Copernicus, Kepler and Tycho – are surrounded by bright rays, which are aprons of impact debris. Plato has a smooth, dark, lava-flooded floor. Credit: Frank Barrett with my annotations

Tonight the moon moves further east into Taurus. As it waxes closer to full, we get more moon for our buck. That means more cool craters and alien terrain to pour over in binoculars and telescopes. I encourage you to take a look even if the weather bites. Just throw on a few more layers and laugh at the cold.

Heavy fog at -20 F over Lake Superior near the Lester River in Duluth, Minn. this morning. Cold air moving over the warmer lake condenses into tendrils of mist which gather into foggy clouds. Photo: Bob King

8 Responses

  1. H.Bob

    Fabulous photo AstroBob. Very sharp. Did you happen to take a close up of Jupiter too? Amazing that you can even see Europa’s shadow.

    When you use your binoculars, are you able to hold them steady enough? I find I’m always a bit shaky and am wondering whether I should find a way to clamp them to my tripod?

    1. astrobob

      H. Bob,
      Thanks! A tripod mount for binoculars is best, but I usually don’t bother. I try to lean against something like a doorway or wall. Kind of wedge myself into a steady position. You can also rest your arms while holding them on the hood of a car, too. I didn’t shoot a closeup of Jupiter, just looked at it in the scope.

  2. Hi Bob, I just found your blog about a week ago while browsing for comet information, and so far I find your blog chock full of useful information.
    I notice you live not too far from me as I live in NE Wisconsin in Pembine.

    Looking forward to reading more of your writings.

    1. astrobob

      Hi Brian,
      We two northerners trying to keep warm under the stars. I couldn’t have been too far from you when I visited a friend in Boulder Junction last month. Glad you enjoy the blog – thanks for saying. You’ve got some great astropix on your site!

  3. Thanks Bob!
    I wouldnt trade the northwoods for anything…
    Theres just something good about winter here too, not too many tourists, quiet, peaceful, and serene just to name a few.
    Still, I am looking forward to getting the kayak out in spring and do some fishing:)

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