Last night Jupiter and Saturn were the closest they have been in 397 years. They were a fine sight in the evening light.
This is a closer look. This is cropped from the image at the top.
This is the view through a 400mm lens. You can see Jupiter, two of Jupiter’s moons, Saturn to the right of Jupiter, and immediately to the right of Saturn you can see Titan, Saturn’s biggest moon.
This is a closer look yet. Above Jupiter are Callisto and Io, two of its four Galilean moons. Hidden in Jupiter’s glow is Ganymede. Right below Jupiter is Europa. To the left of Jupiter is Saturn, looking somewhat oblong thanks to its rings. To the right of Saturn is Titan. There are also two stars in this image, one of them between Callisto and Saturn and the other toward the bottom. An exposure that is bright enough to capture the moons will overexpose Jupiter and Saturn.
This is the same image as the one above with an inset from the computer application Stellarium, a free download. Stellarium is a computer simulation of what is up in the night sky. You can pick any place on earth and and date and any time of night or day. I choose my own location and the evening of December 21. I zoomed in on Jupiter and Saturn and it gave me the labels for moons of Jupiter and Saturn. The moons change position every night.
Although Jupiter and Saturn are moving farther apart every night, you still have the rest of December to go out and photograph them and their moons as long as you have a clear view of the southwest horizon. Each night they are getting closer to the glow of the setting sun. For photography suggestions, go here.
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