NASA has invited amateur astronomers to contribute their Jupiter imaging and associated data files to the JUNO to Jupiter mission. These ground based observations will contribute to the analysis of data received from the JUNO probe that is set to enter orbit around Jupiter on July 4th. Squirrel Valley Observatory has contributed two recent images and data sets to the mission so far. Both submissions have been approved for inclusion.
Link to submitted image 1.
Link to submitted image 2.
On May 22nd the planet Mars reached opposition, and 8 days later on the 30th, it would be at it closest distance to earth until July of 2018. Astronomers, professional and amateur alike were primed to take advantage of this close visit. Close being a relative term describing a 46,777,481 mile distance to Earth.
Being that Mars would appear larger than what we are normally accustomed too, this opposition was the perfect time to put the observatories new one shot color planetary camera (A ZWO ASI224mc) through its paces. The camera performed very well. Over time the settings will be refined more, but initial results were encouraging. Each piece of new equipment always seems to bring with it a “learning curve”.
Actually three planets were pretty well placed for some imaging, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, with Saturn reaching opposition on June 3rd. About a week before the Mars opposition the weather did clear somewhat for some imaging, not ideal skies, but better than clouds. I was just happy to get images of all three planet, better than anything I had gotten in the past. If the weather will allow, there could still be more opportunities to image Saturn, but soon Jupiter will set in the Suns glare and Mars will rapidly shrink in size.
Jupiter ended up getting most of my attention as some trees south of the observatory only allowed for brief views of Mars and Saturn.
Three things became apparent from the imaging sessions, one, the planetary camera has great potential with a little more experience on the operators part. Two, I need an autofocuser, (that will be installed in the coming weeks). And lastly, I need some tree work done.