15 November 2009
David Bartley (yet another Canadian at Google) and I took photos of Jupiter every night after work for a week using my cellphone's camera mounted to my 4.5" telescope. The resulting animation clearly shows the Galilean moons[?] orbiting the gas giant.
Calisto is the outermost moon with a 16 day orbit. As the slowest moon, it is easy to follow. Next is Ganymede with its 7 day orbit. On the first day Ganymede was in front of (or behind) Jupiter. Europa with its 3.5 day orbit can be seen making slightly more than one loop around Jupiter. And finally, Io, the innermost moon has a 1.7 day orbit and is thus has completed nearly half an orbit every day. Io is in front of (or behind) Jupiter for the first two days.
Because Jupiter is so much brighter than its moons, a rather brutal amount of contrast stretching was needed to make the moons visible in this animation. For the record, here are the five raw images (the file names indicate the date and time in PST): M T W T F
An obvious improvement would be to increase the frequency of images, say one image every 12 hours instead of once a day. However in order to do this one would need a collaborator on the other side of the planet with similar equipment. Is anyone in the Middle-East or India reading this? Or does anyone have a Concorde I can borrow? Launching me into orbit would also work.