Getting Lucky

Last week I had some “work” (I often do imaging research and development scope side) to do and the night before I was getting a new scope and mount lined up and tested ahead of time to save a couple of hours at the beginning of the night “of the tests”. The last thing I did was slew (point the telescope) to Jupiter. There it was, right in the center of a DSLR I had on the back as a simple camera that would do the job for alignment testing. Hmmm, I thought, I have to take that camera off anyway, maybe I should pop in an eyepiece and at least look at Jupiter as it is so well place at the moment. It of course was spectacular as always but I could not believe my luck — not only was the Great Red Spot visible, but the moon (natural satellite actually) Io was nearby and casting a shadow on the Jovian clouds, near the Great Red Spot! Basically, this is a solar eclipse on another planet, caught from Earth! 10 minutes before, I was looking forward to going to bed early, and now I’m digging out tele-extenders, spacers, etc and putting a high speed camera (Player One Neptune C-II) on the back of the telescope in place of the eyepiece. “Lucky Imaging” is a technique where we take many thousands of high speed images (this only works with bright targets like the Moon, Sun, and Planets) and then let the computer pick out just a few of the sharpest images taken during moments of stillness in the turbulent atmosphere.

In this case, I was lucky in more way than one, and I’ll take the win!

Jupiter with shadow transit
A solar eclipse, on another planet!

Leave a Reply