Man Captures Amazing Pic of Jupiter From His Garden as Planet Nears Closest Approach to Earth

by Alex Falls

Astrophotography is a popular hobby. People all over the world are fascinated by the planets that float around ours. And sometimes people capture stunning images of the planets so far away from us even in their own backyards. This week, Jupiter made its closest approach to Earth in nearly 60 years. It’s still around 367 million miles from us, but it’s the best chance stargazers have had to get the best view of the gas giant since 1963.

Andrew McCarthy of Arizona practices astrophotography. And he captured some stunning images showing Jupiter beautifully lit up against the night sky. Complete with a detailed view of its red spot and cloud bands.

McCarthy spoke to Daily Mail and shared his images with the outlet. He said he spent around two hours taking many photos in batches. Every 90 seconds, he would capture around 7,500 individual images of the planet. He then stacked the images together to create the final effect.

“The image output was then processed by color balancing and sharpening the image, which I did while traveling,” McCarthy said. “Seeing Jupiter through a telescope is part of what inspired me to go down this road and become an astrophotographer, and I never get tired of seeing it.”

Capturing a Perfect Image of Jupiter

If you look to the skies with just the naked eye, Jupiter looks like a bright star. But through McCarthy’s 11-inch telescope and high-tech camera, the planet comes to life in incredible detail. He captured the image from his garden outdoors in Florence, Arizona. Just as Jupiter rose through the eastern skies after sunset.

McCarthy said he never knows how an image will turn out. He’s unable to predict “seeing conditions” that impact our ability to see the planets. Factors such as the weather forecast or the angle of the planets can impact the image.

“So when things in our atmosphere stabilize, I know the image will be much better than usual, I just don’t usually know until I go through all of my data later to see how clean the resulting image can be,” McCarthy said. “The easiest time to capture such a detailed image of a planet is during opposition, or the ‘closest approach’ to Earth, as the planet appears the largest and brightest and I can use shorter exposure times, which allow me to capture more images quickly.”

He added, “The position in the sky also is much more ideal, as the planet rises as the sun sets and stays in the sky the entire night, so prime imaging happens in the wee hours of the morning when the atmosphere tends to be a little more stable. The results of each frame were pulled into software that maps the images onto a sphere to compensate for Jupiter’s rotation, which allows me to produce an even sharper image than usual.”