Watching Jupiter, its Galilean moons and Saturn!

Last night I tried to watch both Jupiter and Saturn through my old telescope, which many amateur astronomers would claim it to be a “kids scope”. Despite the low quality of my equipment, I was surprised after watching Jupiter and its main moons together with Saturn and its rings. This posts includes some some drawings I made so you can better understand what exactly I saw.

The equipment I used

The only device I own for visual astronomy is a very simple refractor telescope. In fact, it is quite old as the size for the eyepieces, 0.965 inches, is no longer the standard in this subject.

The telescope is a Bluesky telescope, which has a 700mm focal distance and 60mm diameter. It came with different eyepieces: 20mm, 12.5mm and 4mm. This last one was the one I required to watch with a bit more detail both planets.

In the sections below, I have attached some drawings made by using Inkscape so you can have an idea on what to expect when watching through a telescope. People non familiar with visual astronomy usually expect to see those amazing images made by space telescopes, like the ones from Hubble. This is far from reality, as the final image the observer is able to watch is very small. Details can only be spotted once your eye gets used to the amount of light coming from the object.

The drawings in the next lines show the celestial bodies in the orientation as seen through a refractor telescope. These kind of telescopes make the image to appear upside-down, so you must “mirror” them to guess bodies real orientation in the night sky.

All observations were made at a latitude of N40°.

Jupiter and its moons

I was not optimistic about the fact of watching this gas giant trough my telescope. In fact, I could not stop thinking about how Galielo Galilei was able to spot Jupiter’s main moons with an equipment which had a lower quality than mine one. However, once I pointed to the planet using first the 20mm eyepiece and switching next to the 4mm one, a total of four tiny but shiny points were clearly visible!

As you can see in previous drawing, the bands of Jupiter stripes do not appear as one would expect. However, I could appreciate a little bit of red.

The moons, named from the most inner to the most outer ones are: Europe, Io, Gamynede and Callisto.

Saturn observation

Saturn was the first of the two planets I observed because its altitude above the horizon was greater. Therefore, I had no problems due to the good line of sight with the planet. Surprisingly, Saturn showed a beautiful pale yellow color, see the drawing below these lines:

When watching Saturn, I was able to see another tiny object close to the planet which was probably one of its moons. However, I did not drew it because I am not sure about it. Anyway, I will try to observe this planet tonight to better identify what celestial body it was.

Future observations

I wish I could take some pictures but for the moment I am limited to drawing what I see with my eyes. Anyway, this situation only motivates me more on doing more celestial observations and keep learning about visual Astronomy.

Therefore, I have decided to observe during the following days these two planets and try to spot the movement of Jupiter’s moons around the planet.

Thank you for reading!