So, I went up to my local observatory last night, because that's what all the cool people do on Saturday. The power of your telescope comes down to the size of your aperture, and bigger is better. My own unit is on the low side of average at around 4", nothing to be ashamed of, but when rolling with the big dogs I got to enjoy 17 inches of pure pleasure.
This is about the best look at Jupiter and its moons that I can get from my backyard.
Last night, I was able to track Europa's shadow transit, which was pretty sweet.
In fact, I spent most of the night getting my moon on. I love looking at Saturn and trying to tease out any detail in the rings, but Titan is the only one of its many satellites my scope can pick up.
The folks up there are pretty much my people — big know it alls, but real chill about it. I had a cool conversation about trojans, which are minor satellites that share a larger object's orbit rather than orbiting around it. The so-called trojan points are areas of gravitational stabilty that lie about 60 degrees in front of and 60 degrees behind a larger object. They're labled L4 and L5 in the following diagram.
The Earth has a trojan asteroid 1,000 feet across at L4, held safely ahead of an onrushing planet. The meteor that blasted Russia a couple months ago was an innocent victim, steamrolled as we careen wildly through space. The conversation developed from talking about Saturn, which is the only planet in the solar system to have trojan moons. Tethys, named after the titaness of Greek mythology, has two smaller moons, Telesto and Calypso, at L4 and L5 respectively. Jupiter, which is big as shit, extend its gravitational influence across the inner solar system, with its trojans highlighted in green.
Spring is here, y'all, and Memorial Day is fast approaching. Camping is fun, so I advise everyone to find someplace beautiful with clear, dark skies and let it all hang out. No equipment necessary, as just being able to see the arms of the Milky Way extend out is worth the price of admission.