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

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

It will still be some 367 million miles from us, but not since October 1963 have stargazers had such a great opportunity to see it in the night sky.

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

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

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

Mesmerizing: On Monday, Jupiter will make the closest approach to Earth in 59 years.  An astrophotographer has taken advantage of this by capturing the gas giant in such extraordinary detail that it looks like it's a marble floating in space.

Mesmerizing: On Monday, Jupiter will make the closest approach to Earth in 59 years. An astrophotographer has taken advantage of this by capturing the gas giant in such extraordinary detail that it looks like it’s a marble floating in space.

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

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

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

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

JUPITER: THE BASIS

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

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

“Jupiter’s familiar streaks and vortices are actually cold, windswept 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 bigger than Earth that has been raging for hundreds of years.”

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

One spacecraft – NASA’s Juno orbiter – is currently exploring this gigantic world.

Facts and numbers

Distance from Zon: 750 million km

Turnaround time: 12 years

Surface: 61.42 billion km²

Ray: 69,911 km

Mass: 1,898 × ​​​​10^27 kg (317.8 M⊕)

Duration of the day: 0d 9h 56m

moons: 53 with formal designations; countless extra moons

“I spent about two hours shooting them in batches — taking about 7,500 individual photos every 90 seconds.

‘The image output was then processed by color balancing and sharpening the image, which I did on the go.

“Seeing Jupiter through a telescope is one of the reasons I went down this road to become an astrophotographer, and I never get tired of seeing it.”

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

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

The astrophotographer managed to capture the images from his garden in Florence, Arizona earlier this week, when Jupiter rose in the eastern sky just after sunset.

Although he can see the details 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 am not able to accurately predict what the ‘viewing conditions’ will be, which is the limiting factor for astrophotography, despite the weather forecast trying its best,” said Mr McCarthy.

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

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

“The position in the sky is also much more ideal, as the planet rises when the sun sets and stays in the sky all night, so prime imaging takes place in the wee hours of the morning, when the atmosphere tends to get a bit more stable.

“The results of each frame were pulled 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 will be closest to Earth for 59 years on Monday, when the gas giant will face the sun as seen from Earth, an astronomical arrangement known as opposition.

Jupiter’s closest approach to Earth almost never coincides with opposition, meaning the views this year 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 using some kind of instrument.

“With good binoculars, the banding (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 photos of Jupiter before stacking them together to create the final effect for a series of photos

McCarthy took thousands of photos of Jupiter before stacking them together to create the final effect for a series of photos

McCarthy took thousands of photos of Jupiter before stacking them together to create the final effect for a series of photos

The astrophotographer managed to capture the images from his garden in Florence, Arizona earlier this week, when Jupiter rose in the eastern sky just after sunset.

The astrophotographer managed to capture the images from his garden in Florence, Arizona earlier this week, when Jupiter rose in the eastern sky just after sunset.

The astrophotographer managed to capture the images from his garden in Florence, Arizona earlier this week, when Jupiter rose in the eastern sky just after sunset.

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

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

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

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

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

Kobelski said an ideal high-altitude viewing spot would be in a dark and dry area.

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

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

Many of McCarthy’s followers 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 because of its high infrared resolution and sensitivity.

However, he disputes this, saying: ‘My images will never come close to what the JWST can do, both scientifically and aesthetically. Nor does it have to contend with the atmosphere.

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

“But I know I can make a better Jupiter image, and I intend to!”

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

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