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Jupiter in motion, as photographed and drawn from Earth
January 14, 2014 11:49 AM   Subscribe

Redditor bubbleweed took a five and half hour time-lapse of Jupiter, and made this gif to show Jupiter from Io's frame of reference [WARNING: 4.6mb GIF | alternate: 60kb HTML5 video]. But why simply photograph Jupiter, when you can take the time to really know the planet and draw it, repeatedly, as Frédéric Burgeot has done. His work included a flat texture map* which Pascal Chauvet turned into an animated version of Jupiter (Vimeo).

bubbleweed shared how he captured Jupiter, noting that his computer crashed partway through the effort, resulting in the jump in the image animation. If you prefer the animation to keep the frame around Jupiter and watch it appear to spin in place, here is that GIF, from io9.

If you like such odd little looping animations of Jupiter, redditor maphilli14 captured a series of images which were converted into into a another hefty image (8.5 MB GIF), or a four minute YouTube video, with both Io and Ganymede orbiting Jupiter, though the animation "rewinds" at a point, instead of looping.

And if you'd like more animations from a collaboration between Burgeot and Chauvet, they have posted a total of four videos to Vimeo, animating illustrations of both Jupiter and Mars. Here's more on an animation of Mars by his friend, Pascal Chauvet [YouTube | Vimeo] as posted to Astronomy Sketch of the Day.
posted by filthy light thief (21 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Cool! From another of their comments:
Equipment:

8" SCT
imaging source dbk21 camera
cg5-gt mount
televue 2.5x powermate

This is a timelapse made from 99 stacked captures of Jupiter. A capture was made for 90 seonds, then wait for 90 seconds, then capture for 90 seconds and so on. I hauled out my pc to capture this as I don't have the disk space required on my laptop. This went well for the first 60 caps. Then the mount had reached meridian and stopped tracking. After re-slewing to Jupiter and re-centering I had noticed that my PC had frozen (!) I tried several attempts at restarting with no luck. I switched to the laptop for the remaining shots. I lost about 20 minutes in the switchover, that's what caused the jump just after the shadow transit begins. Thankfully my laptop had JUST enough disk space to finish the transit. A successful night in all.
posted by nevercalm at 11:54 AM on January 14


As I do in most every thread re: Jupiter: This is awesome and terrifying.
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 11:58 AM on January 14


Gorgeous!
posted by jquinby at 12:06 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


1,300 Earths could fit inside Jupiter. The planet has 67 moons. It's a pretty deal around here.

Obligatory Kerbal Space Program tie in: The Jupiter equivalent in the game, Jool, is only roughly the size the Earth.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:07 PM on January 14 [3 favorites]


This is both inspiring and depressing. I have a similar telescope, an 8"Schmidt–Cassegrain, and this is the best I've been able to get of Jupiter, using a Canon dSLR through the telescope lens via a tele-extender. That's a single shot. It's neat, and I'm happy with it, but it's still just a fuzzy representation of the planet.

I've played around with stacking software but I've never been able figure it out. Seems you need a degree in astrophysics just to learn how to use it. Googling around for instructions I've never been able to find a clear How-To guide on doing it, not one that I can understand, anyway.

The neat thing about Jupiter is you can see up to four moons with even the cheapest of telescopes or a pair of binoculars, even under bright city lights. It's up all this month, currently the brightest thing in the sky (after the Moon and the ISS) since Venus is currently (I think) still lost in the sun's glare. Go out tonight, you'll see it.

There's something really amazing about seeing the shadow of one of the Galilean moons on Jupiter. There's one or two times this year when, depending on where you are, you could see three shadows at once on Jupiter.
posted by bondcliff at 12:11 PM on January 14


This is lovely. Our local mini obsv did a Jupiter view night recently and it was really awesome to see it so large through their lovely gear.
posted by tilde at 12:15 PM on January 14


It's especially remarkable given that he used only common, reasonably inexpensive amateur equipment to make this. With planetary shots especially, expertise in using imaging techniques can make a reasonably small telescope take pictures far better than anything you'd ever actually see through it visually.

Also, I have to admire the dedication involved in dragging your desktop computer outside to grab the frames.
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:16 PM on January 14


Has their ever been a character in fiction who longed to be an astronomer but could not because they were moved to tears when they saw things so clearly? Because that would be so believable to me.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:16 PM on January 14 [5 favorites]


This is both inspiring and depressing. I have a similar telescope, an 8"Schmidt–Cassegrain, and this is the best I've been able to get of Jupiter,

I see about the same through my 4" refractor. Similar too with those moon shots. Perhaps the planets just don't like you.
posted by popcassady at 1:38 PM on January 14


Mitrovarr: "It's especially remarkable given that he used only common, reasonably inexpensive amateur equipment to make this. With planetary shots especially, expertise in using imaging techniques can make a reasonably small telescope take pictures far better than anything you'd ever actually see through it visually."

Can someone explain or post some links about this? Is it the "stacking" he mentions? I'm curious what kind of image processing makes a blurry shot like what bondcliff posted into something more clear, if the optics are basically the same?
posted by danny the boy at 2:23 PM on January 14


Stacking involves taking many short exposures, then aligning them and "stacking" them on top of each other. The end result is similar to what you'd get with one long exposure but stacking offers multiple benefits. In particular, moments of blurriness can be thrown away before stacking, resulting in a clearer image; signal accumulates faster than random noise as frames are stacked, resulting in a cleaner image; shorter exposures reduce or eliminate the challenge of precisely tracking the target for long periods, resulting in easier setup; and with bright targets like Jupiter or the moon you can get good results stacking images from a conventional webcam or similar inexpensive camera mounted on your telescope, resulting in a rather more affordable enterprise than "deep sky" imaging of fainter, more diffuse objects.
posted by Songdog at 2:39 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Instead of plain stacking, I wonder if Lucky imaging might produce better results (example and amateur example) for Jupiter. The surface features are not static (Jupiter spins pretty fast) so you can only combine exposures across a limited time range before things get blurry. But with enough fast exposures on a decent night, Lucky imaging might produce some interesting results.

(I have stacked images professionally, but never for planets. All the software we use is free and open source - e.g., PyRAF is a Python implementation of the classic IRAF environment that is used for all sorts of image processing, including those from the Hubble Space Telescope. But IRAF was famously user-hostile, and PyRAF tries to preserve some of its quirks, so ...)
posted by RedOrGreen at 3:16 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


I have a similar telescope, an 8"Schmidt–Cassegrain, and this is the best I've been able to get of Jupiter

Does anyone know what brand/model of telescope is involved? There is a tremendous variation in lens and coating quality out there, not to mention proper collimation, viewing location, air stability, etc.

I bought a cheaply made Chinese 6" reflector for $150 thinking that, since mirrors were simpler than lenses to make reasonably well, I could upgrade the eyepieces and get a much better image. No such luck.

Say, anyone wanna buy a telescope?
posted by CynicalKnight at 3:20 PM on January 14


Here's the best image I've taken of Jupiter (8" reflector, Canon S100, some hokey image stacking). So much of good astrophotography is perseverance and care. I love that this animation is great but even it has a big ol' glitch in the middle.

Watching Jupiter with your own eyes is really astonishing. It's no wonder so much astronomy changed after Galileo.
posted by Nelson at 5:08 PM on January 14


You won't believe how amazing this footage of Saturn's moon Titan is
posted by homunculus at 5:20 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


homonculus: I like the video, but man, I am super sick of click-baiting headlines....
posted by kaibutsu at 7:40 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


CynicalKnight: Does anyone know what brand/model of telescope is involved? There is a tremendous variation in lens and coating quality out there, not to mention proper collimation, viewing location, air stability, etc.

I bought a cheaply made Chinese 6" reflector for $150 thinking that, since mirrors were simpler than lenses to make reasonably well, I could upgrade the eyepieces and get a much better image. No such luck.

Say, anyone wanna buy a telescope?


Actually, all modern SCTs made by reputable brands are at least decent. It would have made far more difference how well he dealt with air currents inside the telescope and how stable the local atmosphere was.

I'm curious what the model of your reflector is. There are lots of decent telescopes being made in China these days, but not all of them are. I might be able to say if it's a fundamental problem with the scope or if it is underperforming for another reason.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:31 PM on January 14


I'm curious what the model of your reflector is.

Orbitor 9000s, 6" with a very sturdy equatorial mount. Dozens of clones going on eBay in a variety of colors, but I bought mine locally at a surplus outlet. The upgrade eyepieces were chinese too, but I picked them up from a reputable local optics store and they do seem to be much better quality than the original eyepieces. However, no tangible difference in the imaging of Jupiter or Saturn was evident when I swapped back and forth - it always seems to be the same as or slightly worse than the 2" Tasco refractor I had as a child.
posted by CynicalKnight at 9:55 PM on January 24


CynicalKnight, I'm not familiar with your particular telescope, but it's quite possible that it needs to be collimated. An equatorial-mounted 6" reflector is likely to have a fast (f/4.5?) mirror that's more sensitive to poor collimation, and you need to get everything well aligned by collimating and keep it that way with minor adjustments from time to time. Here are a few resources on collimation.

If the collimation is ok then my next question is whether you've let the telescope adjust to outdoor temperature before trying to observe. Not doing so will definitely blur the image as warm air rises inside the tube.
posted by Songdog at 6:37 PM on January 26


A Map of Jupiter's Moon Ganymede
posted by homunculus at 4:59 PM on February 12


NASA captures unprecedented 360-degree views of Saturn's auroras
posted by homunculus at 5:02 PM on February 12


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