More fun with Jupiter

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Apollo XX
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More fun with Jupiter

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For the purposes of confirming that we were actually at UT -5hrs (yep, don't ask :-), around mid-day today I accessed the S&T "Jupiters Moons" utility to check the time. In doing so I noted that there was a transit predicted for Europa, with a nice shadow path going right through the region between the south equatorial belt and the southern hemisphere region. The event would be well under way by 6:30pm, with the real excitement coming around 7:30pm.

The skys this evening were clear but very unsteady. The wind that encompassed the region all day had not abated, and early views of the shadow transit were very wavy, but the shadow was obvious just the same. I took a break around 7:00pm to grab a bite to eat, and at that time the shadow was pretty much dead-center on the disc with the moon itself preceding it by about one quarter the remaining distance.

After filling my belly, I stepped back up to the eyepiece for the piece de resistance...that of actually seeing Europa while it was still transiting and watching it breach the edge of the disc. It was just around 7:30pm when the moon reached that point in the transit when the contrast changed enough to be able to pick it out on the disc. Then when it reached the edge it optically distorted the shape of the planet as it kept moving along it's orbital path. Even after it cleared the disc and there was black between it and the planet, the edge of the disc still appeared flattened in that area.

I always find the moons of Jupiter fascinating, but especially so during an event like this. There something exciting about seeing the motion, live and in color, and the moons seem to take on an especially jewel-like appearance at the very edge of the disc.

Just another glorious moment at the eyepiece, I guess!
"The purpose of life is the investigation of the Sun, the Moon, and the heavens." - Anaxagoras
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