Jupiter in February 2015

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The best observing conditions for Jupiter in 2015 were expected to take place in February, as it would reach opposition on the 6th. Currently the gas giant is roaming constellation Cancer at a declination of about 17°, which produces rather favorable observing conditions for northern hemisphere mid-latitudes with a maximum altitude above the horizon of about 62°. Unfortunately it is heading towards the descending part of the ecliptic, so that the situation is bound to gradually worsen over the next years. However, the conditions will still be quite favorable in 2016 and for Southern Europe probably in 2017 as well.

A key factor to achieving good planetary images is a steady atmosphere, which most likely happens when a high-pressure area sets in. Unfortunately, the winter is typically a bit skimpy on such a weather pattern, and whenever it occurs, it is often associated with thermal inversion and fog.

Over the first two weeks of February I often chased Jupiter, but with very poor results. Whenever the weather was good, the seeing would always be awful. The only exception was the evening of February 12th, when I managed to pull off a couple of barely acceptable shots. Fortunately, things changed from February 16th, when a strong high-pressure area built up over Western Europe. This offered me a few days (the 17th, and especially the 19th) of fair to good seeing, at least by the standards of my location.

Here below is a selection of my best shots of Jupiter. They were all acquired with a Celestron C11 + barlow lenses yielding different equivalent focal ratios, mainly with a iNova PLA-Mx camera through an a IR-pass filter (Schott RG695). All other relevant data are in the captions. Enjoy!

Here are the images of February 12th:

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These two pictures are from February 17th:

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Then comes the set from February 19th. Here is the first one:

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And, finally, a set of four B/W images, probably the best ones of the lot:

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