Astro ImageSky Events

Images: The Great Conjunction!

Jupiter and Saturn in conjunction on 12/20/2020. by Instagram user Rodrigo Carvajal. All rights reserved. Used by permission. The planets were 7.5-minutes-of-arc apart. Imaging was done with 11-inch, f/5 Newtonian Reflector using Tele Vue Paracorr Type-2 Coma Corrector onto a QHY5III 178C Camera. Two 60-second videos combined to correctly expose both planets. From Santiago, Chile. From there, the planets were 23.5-deg above the horizon at sunset.

The Jupiter and Saturn “Great Conjunction” was well-publicized and well-imaged. Even though the closest approach between the planets was Monday, they’re still in the vicinity and worth a look tonight! This gallery contains some of the best images of the event we found on-line, acquired with Tele Vue products.

The Great Conjunction – Closer-Up by Instagram user Jason Guenzel. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Taken 12/20/2020 (the day before conjunction).  Jason says: “This close-up just barely fit on my camera frame, so I had to mosaic to lay it out properly. Conditions were a challenge as I rushed to get this before a tree got in the way. I managed 1000 frames per channel which is WAY less than I ever use in my planetary shots. It came out alright though!” Imaging details: TPO 12” f/4 Imaging Newtonian with Tele Vue 5x Powermate (with spacers the effective focal length is 6,500mm or more!) into ASI183MM Pro camera with RGB filter. Best 500/1000 images stacked per channel. Taken from Milford, MI.

Tele Vue Powermates proved essential for amplifying telescope focal length to image details on the planets using a camera at prime focus. 

Closest since the year 1623 by Instagram user Jeremy Evans. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Tele Vue-NP101is with Tele Vue 5x Powermate (2,700mm effective focal length) into Canon 5D Mk4 all mounted on a German Equatorial Mount. This is a single image taken from the east end of Zion National Park, UT .

Due to the 2.6 magnitude brightness difference between the planets, some imagers created composites with different exposures for each planet. This was also done to bring out the planetary moons without overexposing the parent body.

Conjunction Composit Photo by Instagram user Michael Stark . All rights reserved. Used by permission. “Seeing and transparency were terrible so this is sweetened with data from the same setup on better nights as a partial luminance layer.” Tele Vue-NP101is with Tele Vue 2x Powermate amplifier using ZWO ASI224MC color camera. Capture with SharpCap, processing with PIPP, AutoStakkert!, RegiStax, and Photoshop. Imaged from northern California.

Tele Vue’s Mahendra wondered “if they are looking back at us” as he was working to create the following image.

Jupiter and Saturn Near Conjunction by Mahendra Mahadeo. All rights reserved. Used by permission. This image from December 18th is a composite of various exposures to capture Jupiter, Saturn, and their attendant moons. Click image for enlargement. Saturn is at upper-right. From left-to-right are the moons Titan, Rhea, Dione, (Saturn with rings), and Tethys. At bottom-left is Jupiter. From left-to-right near are Io, (Jupiter), Europa, Ganymede, and some distance away Calisto. This is Mahendra’s first planetary image. He was assisted by Tom at Tele Vue in setting up his gear in the short time-span he had for imaging. Tele Vue-NP127is with ZWO ASI120MMS camera on an equatorial mount. SharpCap for capture, RegiStax for stacking, and Photoshop CS6 for touch-up. From Tele Vue’s parking lot.

An easy way to capture a memory of this event is to put a smartphone up to an eyepiece and take an image. This afocal or “digiscoping” technique relies on the eyepiece to magnify the view and the camera on the phone replaces your eye to take the image. Our Tele Vue FoneMate firmly connects most Tele Vue eyepieces to your phone in order to employ this technique.

Jupiter and Saturn Conjunction by Instagram user Stanley Williams. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Due to the low altitude of the conjunction, you can see atmospheric dispersion (color fringes) in the photo. Imaging details: Tele Vue-85 telescope with Tele Vue FoneMate attached to a Tele Vue 6mm Ethos eyepiece and carrying an iPhone 12 Pro. Single frame. Taken December 18, 2020 from Stanley’s driveway.

Tele Vue’s Parking Lot “Star Party”
Tele Vue’s staff in New York wasn’t daunted by the recent snowfall and set up in the parking lot on Friday, December 18, to observe and image the planets. 

Group viewing Jupiter and Saturn from the Tele Vue Optics parking lot in New York. (Staff photo).

The forecast in our area for the days leading up to and after the event was for clouds. So our impromptu parking lot “star party” was the best chance to see the planetary pair. 

Group viewing Jupiter and Saturn from the Tele Vue Optics parking lot in New York. Tele Vue NP127is scopes in the foreground: the one on the left is tracking on an EQ mount for imaging and the one on right is on a Tele Vue Gibraltar HD5 mount for visual. Tom (white coat on the left) said the conjunction “was the best part of 2020.” (Staff photo).

Guests and family members joined us to view the planets. It was easy to find an eyepiece that framed Jupiter and Saturn together as they were about a third-degree apart. Hovering low in the evening sky, contending with atmospheric turbulence and dispersion, the 6mm Ethos provided the best view of the planetary systems at 110x.  Providing a 1.2° true field of view gave observers time to enjoy the view and wait for moments of steady seeing.  Visible were Jupiter’s moons, belts, and the rings of Saturn and its moon Titan.  David Nagler commented, “this is as dramatic a telescopic view as my first total solar eclipse and observing the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 impact sites on Jupiter.”  Strangely, mostly ignored was the beautiful 4-day-old crescent Moon above the planets!

Group viewing Jupiter and Saturn from the Tele Vue Optics parking lot in New York. Tele Vue NP127is scopes were out in force. (Staff photo).

Luckily there is still a bit of undeveloped land behind our building so the scopes didn’t have to contend with parking lot lights in the vicinity of our target.

Paul imaging with a Canon 6D DSLR and 24-300mm Canon camera lens. (Staff photo).
Paul’s image. Canon EOS 6D, 0.5 sec, f/5.6, ISO 3200 using EF 70-300mm lens at 285mm.

Tele Vue’s Jon said he always “made it a point to see ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ events” like this.  The “star party” was all over in an hour but the memory will last for a lifetime.  

Did you observe, sketch, or image with Tele Vue gear? We’ll like your social media post on that if you tag it #televue and the gear used. Example:
#televue #tv85 #ethos #jupiter

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