View Full Version : Telescope newb here. What did I see last night in my scope?
2009-Jun-13, 10:21 AM
Hello all! I just recently was able to afford a telescope, I haven't had one since I was a kid.
I don't know all the technical terms yet, so please bear with me!
I was looking at the moon around 4:00 a.m. EST, and there was a planet to the lower left of the moon I was able to focus on. I first thought it must be Jupiter, but when looking at it through the 25mm + 3x Barlow, it was a full grayish planet without visible rings, but with several moons in a straight diagonal line to the planet. I think I could almost make out shadows of rings on the actual planet, but it could have been a focusing issue too.
Does anyone know if I was actually seeing Jupiter without the rings visible? Were the rings at an angle not visible from my perspective? Or was a seeing another planet (maybe Mercury) with a coincidental line of stars in the background?
Thanks in advance for any help!
2009-Jun-13, 10:41 AM
According to this (http://www.fourmilab.ch/cgi-bin/Yoursky), both Jupiter and Neptune were near the Moon at that time.
Plug in the time, your location, etc. I may have guessed them wrong.
If you see rings, I think they're most likely to be Saturn's. Jupiter's are a bit woosy. ;)
Welcome to BAUT.
EDIT: Of course it's unlikely you'll see Saturn's rings now. They're almost edge-on IIRC.
2009-Jun-13, 10:54 AM
Thanks! I think you may be right about Neptune. I'm going to see if I can find some comparable pics online somewhere to what I was seeing, just to confirm.
I didn't actually see any rings. I saw what looks like shadows of rings on the planet (could have been a focusing thing) and 4 points of light in a straight line diagonal to the planet. I'm pretty new at this, so I don't know if they were moons or just stars aligned in the background.
Thanks for the link, though. That is going to help me so much!
2009-Jun-13, 10:57 AM
You were seeing Jupiter. What looked a little like a shadow of the rings was not. Saturn is the planet with rings but could not be in your field of view at 4 am. That rings shadow would have been the striped atmosphere of Jupiter. Jupiter's four major moons are often visible even with binoculars... At four am I would think Jupiter would be straight up. Venus is a little brighter and has nil moons., and closer to the eastern horizon. Saturn would have set to your west before midnight. Happy viewing, and WELCOME... mark.
2009-Jun-13, 10:58 AM
Sorry for the double post, but it looks like it WAS Jupiter I was seeing. Here is a link to a site that shows almost the same image I had in my viewer, labeling it as Jupiter and it's moons.
Not bad for the first night out since I was about 12! :)
2009-Jun-13, 11:00 AM
Thanks Astromark! I happened to find an identical image to what I was seeing on another website. It confirmed what you said, and I tried to link the image in another post but it didn't show up.
Still gettin used to the whole forum thing. :)
Thanks again, I'm really happy with what I got to see my first night out since I was a kid!
2009-Jun-13, 11:14 AM
Jupiter seems the likely candidate - the line of moons being a bit of a give away. Not sure why you are expecting rings - which is the key characteristic of Saturn of course. If you are keen download a programme called Stellarium (http://www.stellarium.org/), tell it where you live and it will show you what's in the sky at any time of day.
You know, someone should develop a website for newbies who aren't ready to invest a lot of money in the hobby, but just want to get a broad feel for what astronomy is all about. Something like 'inexpensive astronomy', 'value-for-money astronomy', umm - dammit, can't get the right word...
2009-Jun-13, 03:49 PM
Haha, yeah, they should. :whistle:
Anyway, I wasn't so much expecting rings, but I saw the line of moons and thought maybe I was missing something. Also, the stripes on the surface of the planet looked like the shadow of rings. Plus it was about 4 in the morning and I'm really not a morning person lol.
Anyway, thanks for the link, downloading it now.
2009-Jun-14, 06:33 AM
The thing about Jupiter is that though it does have rings, they are not visible with normal telescopes. They can be seen with Hubble and with some very large earth-based telescopes. but they are definitely not visible with a normal backyard telescope. They were only discovered in 1979.
2009-Jun-15, 02:22 AM
Yeah, for some reason I was thinking that it was possible for Jupiter to have rings, especially when I saw the stripes I thought were shadows. I don't remember all the things about planets the way I used to, but I am relearning.
2009-Jun-15, 07:45 AM
Jupiter and Saturn seem to be rather easy to confuse with each other.
I still have to think carefully to keep Neptune and Uranus sorted out.
-- Jeff, in Minneapolis
2009-Jun-15, 10:39 AM
hi there sundogdayze, you should find one of these two programs very helping.
StarryNight is not free, but better at telling you what you saw in the sky from a given location. Celestia takes some practice, but is also very good at telling you this sort of thing. Plus it's a beautiful simulation.
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