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Astrophotographer captures 'clearest ever image' of Jupiter looking like a marble in space

Fascinating: On Monday, Jupiter will make its closest approach to Earth in 59 years.  An astrophotographer took advantage of this to capture the gas giant in such extraordinary detail that it looks like a marble floating in space.

On Monday, Jupiter will make its closest approach to Earth in 59 years.

It will still be about 367 million miles from us, but not since October 1963 have stargazers had such a great chance of spotting it in the night sky.

An astrophotographer has already taken advantage of this by capturing the gas giant in such extraordinary detail that it looks like a marble floating in space.

Andrew McCarthy’s stunning images show Jupiter beautifully illuminated against the night sky, highlighting its red spot and cloud bands.

“It’s one of the sharpest images I’ve ever produced of the gas giant and I’m proud to share with you the clearest shot I’ve gotten of Jupiter so far,” said McCarthy, known to his followers as Cosmic-Background. .

Fascinating: On Monday, Jupiter will make its closest approach to Earth in 59 years.  An astrophotographer took advantage of this to capture the gas giant in such extraordinary detail that it looks like a marble floating in space.

Fascinating: On Monday, Jupiter will make its closest approach to Earth in 59 years. An astrophotographer took advantage of this to capture the gas giant in such extraordinary detail that it looks like a marble floating in space.

Andrew McCarthy's stunning images show Jupiter beautifully illuminated against the night sky, highlighting its red spot and cloud bands.

Andrew McCarthy’s stunning images show Jupiter beautifully illuminated against the night sky, highlighting its red spot and cloud bands.

“It’s one of the sharpest images I’ve ever produced of the gas giant and I’m proud to share with you the clearest shot I’ve gotten of Jupiter so far,” said McCarthy, known to his followers as Cosmic-Background.

JUPITER: THE BASICS

Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest in our solar system.

It is a huge ball of gas composed mainly of hydrogen and helium, with some heavy elements.

“Jupiter’s familiar streaks and eddies are actually cold, windy clouds of ammonia and water, floating in an atmosphere of hydrogen and helium,” NASA said.

“Jupiter’s iconic Great Red Spot is a giant storm larger than Earth that has been raging for hundreds of years.”

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The planet is twice the size of all the other planets combined, and the Great Red Spot alone is big enough to fit the entire Earth inside it.

A spacecraft, NASA’s Juno orbiter, is currently exploring this giant world.

facts and figures

distance from the sun: 750 million km

orbital period: 12 years

surface area: 61.42 billion km²

Radio: 69,911 km

Dough: 1.898 × ​​10^27 kg (317.8 M⊕)

length of day: 0d 9h 56m

moons: 53 with formal appointments; countless additional moons

“I spent about two hours taking photos in batches: every 90 seconds I captured about 7,500 individual images.

“Then the image output was processed by color balance and image sharpening, which I did while travelling.

“Seeing Jupiter through a telescope is part of what inspired me to follow this path and become an astrophotographer, and I never tire of seeing it.”

McCarthy took thousands of images of Jupiter before stacking them to create the final effect.

To the naked eye, the planet looks like a bright star, but when viewed through its 11-inch telescope and color camera, it comes to life in incredible detail.

The astrophotographer managed to capture the images from his garden in Florence, Arizona, earlier this week, as Jupiter was rising in the eastern skies just after sunset.

Yet despite being able to see the detail of the planet and its four Galilean moons through his telescope, he says he’s never sure how well the final images will turn out.

“I cannot accurately predict ‘viewing conditions’, which is the limiting factor for astrophotography, even though the weather forecast is giving its best,” McCarthy said.

“So when things in our atmosphere settle down, I know the image will be much better than usual, but I usually don’t know until I go through all my data later to see how clean the resulting image might be.”

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He added: “The easiest time to capture such a detailed image of a planet is during opposition, or ‘closest approach’ to Earth, as the planet appears the largest and brightest and I can use shorter exposure times. , allowing me to capture more images quickly.

“The position in the sky is also much more ideal, as the planet rises as the sun sets and remains in the sky all night, so the first image is produced in the early hours of the morning, when the atmosphere tends to be a bit more stable.

“The results from each frame were fed into software that maps the images onto a sphere to compensate for Jupiter’s rotation, allowing me to produce an even sharper image than usual.”

Jupiter makes its closest approach to Earth in 59 years on Monday, when the gas giant will be directly opposite the sun as seen from Earth, an astronomical arrangement known as opposition.

Jupiter’s closest approach to Earth almost never coincides with opposition, which means this year’s views will be “extraordinary,” according to NASA.

Although Jupiter is one of the few planets that can be seen with the naked eye, the US space agency still recommends the use of some kind of instrument.

“With good binoculars, the bands (at least the central band) and three or four of the Galilean satellites (moons) should be visible,” said Adam Kobelski, a research astrophysicist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

McCarthy took thousands of images of Jupiter before stacking them to create the final effect of a series of photographs.

McCarthy took thousands of images of Jupiter before stacking them to create the final effect of a series of photographs.

The astrophotographer managed to capture the images from his garden in Florence, Arizona, earlier this week, as Jupiter was rising in the eastern skies just after sunset.

The astrophotographer managed to capture the images from his garden in Florence, Arizona, earlier this week, as Jupiter was rising in the eastern skies just after sunset.

“It is important to remember that Galileo observed these moons with 17th-century optics. One of the key needs will be a stable mount for whatever system you use.

A 4-inch or larger telescope would allow observers to see the Great Red Spot and Jupiter’s bands in more detail.

Kobelski said an ideal viewing spot would be a high rise in a dark, dry area.

“Views should be great for a few days before and after September 26,” he explained. ‘So take advantage of the good weather on either side of this date to enjoy the view. Outside of the moon, it should be one of (if not the) brightest objects in the night sky.’

Despite being at its closest point to Earth in 59 years on Monday, Jupiter will still be about 367 million miles away, while at its furthest it is about 600 million miles from us.

Many of McCarthy’s supporters claim that his work rivals images taken by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the largest optical telescope in space that can see distant or faint objects due to its high resolution and sensitivity. in the infrared.

However, he questions this, saying, “My images will never come close to what the JWST is capable of, both scientifically and aesthetically.” You also don’t have to deal with atmosphere.

“In the case of Jupiter, it can reveal the etheric ring system, something that is frankly impossible from Earth with current consumer technology.

‘But I know I can produce a better image of Jupiter, and I plan to!’

How to spot it: Jupiter’s closest approach to Earth almost never coincides with opposition, which means this year’s views will be “extraordinary,” according to NASA.

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