We’ve been enjoying Professor Brian Cox (physicist) on his TV show Wonders of the Solar System on BBC Entertainment (India) at 9pm on Wednesday nights. In true BBC style, the production values are top class, the photography breathtaking and the digital imagery really brings the solar system to life. To guide you through, is Prof Brian Cox’s simple presentation, engaging style and of course the Oldham accent. He’s not just lending his voice like Morgan Freeman in Through The Wormhole on Discovery. He’s an actual young physicist. After his lecture on the stars to the children of the Officers and as an homage to our fascination with our solar system my dear husband photographed the Gas Giant, Jupiter, a few weeks ago and here are the results. The images were taken through a Konus 130mm maksutov-cassegrain telescope. 130 represents the objective aperture diameter and determines how much light can enter the instrument. 130mm is on the border of beginner-intermediate telescopes and just allows resolution of planetary features of Jupiter. The telescope was mounted on a motorised EQ-5 German equatorial mount. This just means that the telescope support axis was aligned to the rotational axis of the Earth and rotated at a constant rate of 15 deg / hour to compensate for the Earth’s rotation.
About 1000 images were captured through a webcam mounted on the eyepiece. These were then fed through a software program called Registax which can be downloaded here to firstly align all the images (a process called registration) and then increase detail and reduce noise (a process called stacking). Final cropping was done with The GIMP. You can see the quality of the raw data next to the final stacked result in the first image.
You can just make out the rings of Jupiter and on the second image you can just about make out the great red spot (on the bottom left of the largest gas ring) – a storm that has raged on the surface of Jupiter for several hundred years. It’s large enough to swallow our entire planet three times over!!