Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2012 March 2
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Jupiter Unplugged
Drawing Credit & Copyright: Frédéric Burgeot

Explanation: Five hand drawn sketches of Jupiter were used to create this beautifully detailed flat map of the ruling gas giant's turbulent cloud tops. Made with colored pencils at the eyepiece of a 16 inch diameter telescope, the original drawings are about 5 inches (12.5 cm) in diameter. The drawn planisphere map dimensions are 16x8 inches (40x20 cm). Observing on different dates in November and December of 2011, astronomical artist Fred Burgeot has relied on Jupiter's rotation to cover the planet's complete circumference. Digital animator Pascal Chauvet has also translated Burgeot's drawings into an intriguing video (vimeo), synthesizing a telescopic view of the rotating planet with a tilt and phase appropriate for the observing dates. The video includes the Galilean moons moving along their orbits, beginning with Ganymede and Io casting shadows as they glide in front of Jupiter, followed by Europa and Callisto passing behind the planet's banded disk.

Tomorrow's picture: another comet tale

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