I was up late last night (as always) and I had noticed recently that Jupiter was in our night sky rather brilliantly. But last night the sky was unusually clear, so on impulse I pulled out my tripod, set my camera for full manual mode, and tried my hand at taking some night photos.

I’ll let you be the ultimate judge of them, but I think they came out brilliantly!

the night sky and jupiter

My first attempt – a 15 second exposure of the sky looking pretty much due south from my balcony. In retrospect, 15 seconds was probably too long of an exposure. The bright line in the lower-right is a plane passing by.

(Yes, there are power lines near my house. No, I’m not worried about them. They’re not really that close, although they look closer in the picture.)

the night sky and jupier (darker)

This one is a darker photo (shorter exposure). But even still, you can see the stars are slightly streaked – amazing how much the sky moves in just a few seconds. If you needed proof that the earth is really spinning quite fast, there you have it!

The constellation you can (sort of) see is Sagittarius, I believe.

jupiter and stars 3

This is probably one of the best photos of the bunch I took. If you look really closely, you can see a few dots around Jupiter – those are actually the moons of Jupiter. Amazing!

jupiter and moons (cropped and enlarged)

This is a closeup and blow-up of the last photo. Obviously, the bright blob is Jupiter, but what’s interesting (to me at least) are the 3 little dots of light around it. They’re Jupiter’s moons! I’ve never seen them before, even when I’ve used binocculars and telescopes. Amazing that my little 12x zoom lens was able to pick them up! From left to right they are (I believe): Ganymede, Io, and Europa.

In the grand scheme of things it’s no big deal to have photographed Jupiter and it’s moons – I’m sure millions of people have done it already before me. But for me, it’s quite an accomplishment. I’ve always been facinated with astronmy, and taking photos of the things I’ve previously only ever read about is… well, cool!

With this experience taking photos of the night sky, I may try my hand at some more interesting shots. (I guess I’ve been looking at the Astronomy Picture of the Day site too much lately.)

By Keith Survell

Geek, professional programmer, amateur photographer, crazy rabbit guy, only slightly obsessed with cute things.