Jupiter Rising | 8 Sep 2022

Jupiter rose over the tree across the street a few minutes after 9 pm. With camera on a tripod and on full zoom, the intervalometer was set for 1 minute intervals of 10 exposures. The camera was set to ISO 800 and ¼ second. I hoped for just enough exposure to barely reveal the moons and not overexpose Jupiter too much. Europa was barely visible left of Jupiter. Ganymede and Callisto farther to the right. Smoke haze from western state forest fires dimmed the sky. After the exposures, Pixelmator Pro was used to layer them in this image.

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Night and Morning Sky Shows

Recent good weather provided two viewing opportunities about 8 hours apart. The first was an International Space Station pass over our area on 30 July 2022. The ISS was to appear low in the NW sky at about 9:41 pm, pass overhead at about 65˚ elevation, then disappear into Earth’s shadow low in the SE at about 9:47 pm. I programmed my camera to take a series of images to record the progress across the sky. It was set to record 1-second images of ISO 3200 about 10 seconds apart. I pressed start and the program didn’t do what I expected. So, I did it manually.

The images were placed into iMovie for this video of ISS playing peek-a-boo with some clouds.

The second sky views came at around 5:25 am the next morning on 31 July. I planned to view 5 of the planets. I looked south to easily find Jupiter high in the sky. The Galilean moons were arranged left to right Callisto, Ganymede, Io, and Europa.

Callisto, Ganymede, Jupiter, Io, Europa

Looking east revealed Venus rising well before the Sun.

The prize for the morning included Mars and Uranus in the same field of view.

Finally, I looked around me to see Earth cast in the morning light to top off the 5 planets.

Maharishi Vedic Observatory

Fairfield is a city in southeast Iowa with a population of 9416 based on the 2020 census. Like many places, it has a varied and interesting history. Higher education played a large role in that history. Fairfield was home to Parsons College from 1875 to 1973. Enrollment peaked at 5000 in 1966. Soon after, the school and it’s president, Millard G. Roberts, got caught up in questionable activities. Life magazine published a critical article. The school lost accreditation and he was asked to resign. Enrollment dropped and the school closed in 1973 bankrupt and $14 million in debt.

The following year the campus was purchased by Maharishi International University. It promotes consciousness-based education which includes Transcendental Meditation technique in its practices. Full potential of the individual, reaching economic goals, living in harmony with the environment, and bringing spiritual fulfillment and happiness to humanity are some of the goals of MIU. Follow links to find out more about MIU. This blog post is not an attempt to promote or endorse in any way.

Our recent visit to Fairfield and the campus was to visit their Maharishi Vedic Observatory. This aerial image shows it is not what one thinks of when describing an observatory. There is no large telescope dome. Instead, it is made up of 10 solar and celestial measurement instruments, or sundials, and a collection of inner circles.

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Lunar Eclipse | 15 May 2022

The skies cleared as evening approached. The Moon was aligned with Earth and the Sun. Their syzygy at 9:30 pm CDT brought the Moon into the umbra of the Earth’s shadow. Desktop software gave a simulated view like this. The faint inner circle is the umbra. The larger circle is the penumbra.

My camera was mounted on a tripod and set for capturing images about every 15 minutes starting at 9:30. The images were cropped to place the umbra in nearly the same place in each image. That placement highlighted the movement of the Moon over the 15 minute time periods between photos.

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Jupiter and Venus Cross Paths

During April 2022, the morning predawn sky had Venus, Saturn, Mars, and Jupiter in various alignments. In the last days of April, Jupiter approached Venus and closed the angular distance between them as seen from our perspective on Earth. This short video shows the locations of the planets as time is stepped forward from 27 April to 4 May. Notice how Earth, Venus, and Jupiter are nearly along the same line of sight at the middle of that time interval.

I hoped to get an image of Venus and Jupiter on 30 April when they were at their closest angular distance of about 0.3˚. Our Moon’s diameter in the sky is only 0.5˚. But, cloudy skies during that time prevented any sight of the pair. Today, 4 May, the sky was finally clear. I got a good image of Jupiter well past and to the right of Venus. This composite aligns today’s image with 3 previous images.

I assumed someone in the world had a clear sky on 30 April and got an image of the two planets together in the same field of view of a telescope eyepiece. I check daily for interesting astronomical images on Spaceweather Gallery. There I found an image by Particio Leon in Santiago, Chile, taken at 11:27 am local time. They displayed differences in size, phase and surface brightness. He used a Canon Canon EOS Rebel T7i through his 8″ telescope with settings of f/6, 1/320s, and ISO100. I took the liberty of rotating his image to simulate my view from the northern hemisphere if I had been able to witness it myself.

Patricio Leon | Santiago, Chile