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Astrophotography of Jupiter with an iPhone

Astrophotography of Jupiter with an iPhone

by , 12:45 PM EDT, October 28th, 2008

An expert amateur astronomer in Arizona has captured a terrific photo of Jupiter and its Galilean moons with an Apple iPhone and a Meade catadioptric telescope.

The astrophoto was taken over the weekend of Oct 25 by Michael Weasner of Tucson, Arizona. He used the afocal technique with a 2x Barlow lens, a 15 mm eyepiece, a lunar filter (to reduce the brightness slightly) and an iPhone 2G. The effective magnification was 267x. The telescope was a Meade 8-inch (20 cm) LX200-ACF. The catadioptric telescope uses a glass corrector plate and mirrors to achieve the "Advanced Coma-Free" system related to the original Ritchey-Chrétien design.


The photo shows three of the four "Galilean" moons of Jupiter: Ganymede, Io, Europa, on the right, left to right. Callisto was not in the frame, and a faint star can be seen on the left of Jupiter. A few of Jupiter's cloud bands can be seen in the iPhone photo.

Galileo was the first to see these largest moons of Jupiter through his homemade telescope in 1610, and they were named after him. Jupiter has, at last count, 62 moons, but the four largest Galilean moons are about the same size as the Earth's moon while the rest are generally much smaller. Some people with excellent vision have claimed to be able to see these moons, in favorable positioning and seeing conditions, with their naked eye.

Meade LX200-ACF

The photo was cleaned up slightly with Apple's Aperture to adjust the exposure (brightness) and contrast.

Mr. Weasner is the founder and maintainer of "Weasner's Mighty ETX Site" where he covers all things related to Meade astronomical telescopes, including his own and submitted astrophotography.

Back in January, Mr. Weasner submitted one of the first astronomical photos of the Earth's moon using similar equipment and an Apple iPhone 2G.

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