1st March 2006 – Best Jupiter observed !!

(Directly adapted from my website Diary section)

This time only 3 of us, my primary observing partner Akarsh, me and the President of ABAA, Mr. Dilip Kumar had gone to our northern location, Hosahalli with the prime purpose of observing and doing some astrophotography, piggyback. Both of us, Akarsh and me were supposed to learn it from our President, who’s’ very experienced in this field. Also I wished to get the Comet Pojmanski photographed by tracking.

The weather was very bad in the evening up to midnight. There was also lots of light pollution. As a result no photography could be done. So Akarsh and me went on with our usual work, observing. The instrument was the president’s 8″ f/8 which produced fantastic images and stars as pin-point. It was mostly one among the top two best telescopes I had ever come across in my life !!

Both of us started with the planetary nebula NGC 2438 in the open cluster M46 (NGC 2437). I roughly knew which side of the open cluster to look for so with very great difficulty could find a 10th magnitude haze within the cluster. All of us saw it later. At night it was the usual session with different types of objects, clusters and galaxies. Akarsh finished the entire Virgo cluster (while I just dozed off for some time) and observed around a total of 25 galaxies there. Then both of us aimed mainly for some new globulars in the Southern sky. And galaxies randomly here and there as well as in Leo, Ursa Major etc. I saw only a total of around 18 new objects. Some other highlights were : two very faint looking globulars in the same field of view, Pojmanski comet, 1-2 approximately 11.5 magnitude galaxies and very less meteors.

At that time there was also a small but bright comet in the morning eastern sky rising late. In the morning we waited for Comet Pojmanski wanting to photograph it. This comet was a bright one but small in size with a short tail, the object was spottable with binoculars. But the skies in east were so badly light-polluted that it resembled the city sky. I wanted to find it with the telescope but the light-pollution discouraged me in finding it. But still, somehow by moving here and there in the nearby region as given in the finder chart, I came across it with the telescope. It was superb even in lights. The coma was very bright as if radiating light from within, and this time the tail was around 1/4th the field of view of eyepiece (1 degree). The last time I saw it just some days prior to that during our successful star-party on 25 February, it was around 1/2 degree long. This is when I could spot it first.

Jupiter was one of the best highlights ever. So good was the optics of the President’s instrument that when the image was steady, I could slightly make out the Red Spot and another spot beside it !! I wanted to know what that tiny spot was, around half the size of the Great Red Spot (GRS), probably an illusion. And on top of that, the unevenness (that they are not straight lines) in the two bands of Jupiter were slightly made out as seen in photos. Also I could probably see another very thin band just above the bottom band (that’s near to the equator). Very few bands near both the poles also could be seen. These observations were made by both of us, the President and me (mostly these were not illusions).

After few days, I came to know that the unknown spot I had seen near to the GRS was infact another new feature on Jupiter, unofficially called Junior Red Spot. I had “discovered” a new feature on Jupiter which was never known to any of us before we observed it !! It was a sense of great achievement, finding something with as small as a 8″ telescope, visually, without any gadgets like filters etc, that is only with the simple naked-eye and that too on an object which was being viewed by several thousands of other observers throughout the world.

We missed photographing Comet Pojmanski this time. But anyway I hadn’t lost hope altogether. We had another comet 73/P Schwassmann Wachmann3 (73/P SW3) coming our way, we not knowing about the historic approach we were going to witness. It was predicted to be much brighter in May reaching 3-4th magnitude and visible throughout the night, but finally it reached around 5-6th magnitude. Unfortunatley due to lack of photographic equipment, we could neither capture it on film. But I can say atleast for sure that Akarsh and me were probably the only observers in the city (or even the State) who’ve seen 73/P SW3 the most number of times.

If anyone can find out the discovery date and leave a reply here, it would be great to compare how “late” I “discovered” that Junior GRS.

More of my interesting experience can be found at my “Diary” section :

DIARY : http://www.angelfire.com/space2/amar/diary/diary_home.htm

4 Responses to “1st March 2006 – Best Jupiter observed !!”

  1. The cynic Says:

    you discovered it only a couple of days late.
    Was photographed on feb 27th 2006.

    If I remember right , it was in the astronomy sites by 28th evening itself …It made big news.

    But ..still a great feat .. You were probably the first people in India to have seen GRS jr

  2. pharaoh Says:

    guys, not to spoil the magic of the moment, but the Red Spot Junior, known more formally as Oval BA, which is a collision of several smaller storm systems, has been known in various forms since 1930s! see this,


    what happened in Feb 2006 was the storm changed color (which is an indication of it’s speed).

    by new feature, you probably mean “altered” feature. i don’t want to nit-pick, but like to have the record straight.


  3. The cynic Says:

    it was white ..and it turned red.
    most of us know that.

    but still..for all us amateurs.. a new red spot was born

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