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Astronomical Observatory: Cool Images

Images: Jupiter, January 10, 2001

This image of Jupiter and the Galilean satellites is the first color image obtained (January 10, 2001) using our new CCD camera (an ST-8E from SBIG) with a color filter wheel.

Contents: Jupiter's atmosphere shows dark belts alternating with light zones which are defined by the planet's powerful jet streams: an effect of the rapid rotation (10 hours for a complete turn) of this giant planet. Another consequence of the rapid rotation is the slight flattening of the poles. (The Great Red spot had just rotated to the limb of the planet and is not visible.) The satellites visible are (from left to right) Europa, Io, Ganymede, and Callisto. Callisto appears fainter than the others because its surface is darker (not because its size is smaller). The satellites are approximately arrayed in a line as they orbit in the plane of Jupiter's equator, which we view edge on.

Processing: This full color image was made by freshman Andrew Vanden Heuvel by combining three separate monochrome images (one each using the Johnson B, V, and R filters, which pass blue, green, and red light, respectively) obtained around 10 pm on January 10, 2001. Exposure times were 0.5, 0.15, and 0.11 seconds, respectively. Image sharpness was enhanced using unsharp masking. The brightness scale was set separately for the planet and the (relatively much fainter) satellites.

Orientation and scale: North is up and East is to the left. The angular distance from Europa to Callisto is 6.3 arcminutes (a projected linear distance of 750,000 miles).


Content updated 3/19/01

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