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

On Monday, Jupiter will come closest to Earth in 59 years.

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

An astrophotographer has already taken advantage of this by capturing the gas giant in such extraordinary detail that it appears to resemble a marble floating in space.

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

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

Mesmerizing: On Monday, Jupiter will come closest to Earth in 59 years.  An astrophotographer has taken advantage of this by capturing the gas giant in such extraordinary detail that it appears to resemble a marble floating in space
Mesmerizing: On Monday, Jupiter will come closest to Earth in 59 years.  An astrophotographer has taken advantage of this by capturing the gas giant in such extraordinary detail that it appears to resemble a marble floating in space

Mesmerizing: On Monday, Jupiter will come closest to Earth in 59 years. An astrophotographer has taken advantage of this by capturing the gas giant in such extraordinary detail that it appears to resemble a marble floating in space

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

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

1663935814 291 Astrophotographer captures clearest ever image of Jupiter looking like a
1663935814 291 Astrophotographer captures clearest ever image of Jupiter looking like a

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

JUPITER: THE FUNDAMENTALS

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

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

“Jupiter’s familiar streaks and vortices are actually cold, windy 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 larger 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 big enough to fit the entire Earth inside.

A spacecraft – NASA’s Juno orbiter – is currently exploring this giant world.

Facts and figures

Distance from sun: 750 million km

Revolving period: 12 years

Surface area: 61.42 billion km²

Radius: 69,911 km

Lot: 1.898 × ​​10^27 kg (317.8 M⊕)

Length of day: 0d 9h 56m

Moons: 53 with formal designations; countless extra moons

‘I spent about two hours taking pictures of it in batches – every 90 seconds I took about 7,500 individual pictures.

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

‘Seeing Jupiter through a telescope is part of what inspired me to go down this path and become an astrophotographer, and I never tire of seeing it.’

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

To the naked eye, the planet looks like a bright star, but when viewed through his 11-inch telescope and color camera, it was brought to life in incredible detail.

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

But despite being able to 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’m not able to accurately predict the ‘seeing conditions’, which is the limiting factor in astrophotography, despite the weather forecast doing its best,” McCarthy said.

“So when things in our atmosphere stabilize, I know the image will be much better than normal, 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 “closest approach” to Earth, when the planet appears to be the largest and brightest, and I can use shorter exposure times which give allowing me to capture multiple images quickly.

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

“The results of each frame were fed 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 make its closest approach to Earth in 59 years on Monday, when the gas giant will be directly opposite the Sun as seen from Earth, an astronomical arrangement known as opposition.

Jupiter’s closest approach to Earth almost never coincides with opposition, meaning this year’s views 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 band (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 images of Jupiter before stitching them together to create the final effect for a series of images
McCarthy took thousands of images of Jupiter before stitching them together to create the final effect for a series of images

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

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

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

Despite being closest to Earth in 59 years on Monday, Jupiter will still be about 367 million miles away, while at its furthest it is 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 will be a stable mount for the system you use.’

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

Kobelski said an ideal vantage point would be at a high elevation in a dark and dry area.

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

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

Many of Mr McCarthy’s supporters claim his work rivals images taken by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the largest optical telescope in space, which can see distant or faint objects due to its high infrared resolution and sensitivity.

However, he disputes this, saying: ‘My images will never come close to what JWST is capable of, both from a scientific and aesthetic point of view. Nor does it have to contend with the atmosphere.

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

‘But I know I can produce a better Jupiter image and I plan to!’

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

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

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