A quick peek at Jupiter and her moons

Posted on 2011-09-09 23:44

Getting home late tonight we stepped out of the car and looked up Southward to behold the ominous (and luminous) sight of the Moon almost to the full against a backdrop of wispy clouds directly over the house. I quickly made plans with my eldest to meet in the backyard with the binocs for some impromptu sky gazing, and though a night with a nearly full moon isn't the best time to look we were both so glad we did. Learning how to use binoculars properly takes a little time, but what a payoff! My daughter also recently got new glasses so just having those on was awe-inspiring for her, let alone the close up view the binocs afforded. But the real treat was our view of Jupiter. At the time it was still pretty low in the East, but there weren't any clouds near it (at first) and after a few minutes of fiddling, I at least was able to resolve two moons. A quick check of Stellarium afterwards confirms that what I had been seeing was Ganymede on the left and the combined light from Europa and Callisto on the right. I didn't see iO, but the wife claims she did. I'll include a couple screen shots from Stellarium of what it looked like to us. You know its a great night of gazing when your kid is as excited about it as you are! She even said she wants to study Astronomy more! Win!