A month or two ago I bought a 5" Celestron spotting scope, mainly for bird/wildlife viewing, and it’s terrific for that purpose. Last night was beautifully clear and Jupiter was ascending, so I set up on the back deck, not really expecting much. But wow, I could actually see the bands. I think if I put a yellow filter in, they’d likely be more distinct, but it was great to see them at all. Back in August, we went to a hilltop outside the city to see the Perseid shower, and were able to look at Saturn through a 12" scope, which was very cool, as it was tipped to where the rings were clearly visible. I feel like a kid being able to look at the moon through binos for the first time.
Yes, Astronomy is a great show. Forty years ago, i bought one of those foot-and-a-half long white telescopes on a dinky tripod for ten bucks, put it in the window, and within a few minutes, saw Saturn’s rings and several of the satellites of Saturn and Jupiter. Maybe the best cheap thrill I’ve ever had.
A couple decades later, living in Chile, I gave up trying to find a southern star chart (no internet in those days), so I made my own, using star coordinates I found in an old World Almanac, and spent many nights starwatching the southern stars, many of which I had never even heard the names of.
Did you see the four major moons? Even with a decent pair of binoculars, you can see the four pinpoints of light.
Stars are also great to look at through binoculars or a telescope. Be sure to get a look at the Pleiades, they are incredible.
Now I need to go find my binoculars…
We went out there again last night, with a yellow filter in place, which helped with the bands. Also saw three of the moons. Our deck is small, and the patch of sky available is also small because of the surrounding trees. I’m planning to take the scope with us this summer on our extended road trips, though. I have a night sky app for the iPad, which will help.
One of the highlights of my childhood summers was the two weeks we’d spend as a family at a fishing camp along the MN-Canada border. It was so far out in the middle of nowhere that they would drop us off and pick us up in a seaplane that landed on the lake. The sky was completely free of urban light pollution at night and was so full of stars it was tough for this city girl to comprehend. My granddad always brought a telescope and he’d sit for hours with me at night showing me the stars and planets (when visible) and teaching me the lore of the constellations.
Like every other kid growing up in the '60s, I wanted to be an astronaut. My granddad couldn’t make that happen for me, but he did give me the stars.
You have to catch it at the right time. Depending on where they are in their orbit, the four biggies (Io, Ganymede, Callisto and Europa) might be behind or in front of the planet and then you can’t see them.
I found the blob of white stuff between Orion’s legs a few years ago. Long exposures reveal it as colorful, but in me 6", it was just white. Nonetheless, it was still very awesome to see first hand. If you have SkyOrb, I think it has a selection for “Messiers”, which are things not stars. Stars themselves are kind of uninteresting to just look at without equipment to analyze the light.
Oh, and see if you can spot the recent impact scar
Point taken. I believe Io is the only one that may have been occluded at the time. I could be wrong.
Yeah - but unfortunately, so much of it happens so darned late at night!
My wife used to be quite into it. Over the years, we decided the best all-around tool was a pair of image-stabilization binos. Tho the solar filter on her tele comes in handy at times. YMMV.
Fun Fact (courtesy of an Asimov Science essay): The four largest moons are bright enough to be seen by the naked eye. But … they’re too close to Jupiter and that washes them out.
I had a cheapo 50x telescope as a kid and even it showed the big four quite easily. (And the phases of Venus, etc.) I think that Copernicus chap might be on to something.
Venus only has phases, and they are not that hard to see even with my pathetic eyes.