Photographing Jupiter at Opposition with a Blackberry

On the night of September 21st 2010 Jupiter was at Opposition. This is when a planet is on the opposite side of the sky to the sun. For Jupiter this happens once every 400 days however this year it’s occurring close to the time when the planet is also at perihelion, when it’s at it’s closest to the Sun – that will happen next March.

In addition to this, the planet Uranus was also at opposition and visible in the same field of view with binoculars.

Now not wanting to miss this opportunity (I’ve not done any astrophotography for years), I decided to get my 8″ Meade LX200 out of mothballs and have a crack at Jupiter with my Canon EOS D30 camera attached to the scope using a T adapter/autoguider, so I could have an eyepiece attached at the same time.

Unfortunately, due to not having the battery charged I had to rely on manually moving the scope. However for jupiter you don’t need too long an exposure, so in this case it wouldn’t be a problem.

The following two pictures were the best. Although the camera picked up colours, the size of jupiter in the frame was small, so the results were pretty poor:

So, giving up on that idea I thought about trying the old eyepiece projection technique. This is where you just have an eyepiece attached to the scope and then a camera is focused against the eyepiece. This has the benefit of giving a higher magnification of the view but the downside that a lack of guiding or other external vibration would be evident in the image.

With these problems in mind I decided to try to use the Blackberry’s camera instead, and surprisingly the results were impressive.

The image above is the best one. Nothing’s been done to that image other than cropping it. The following two images are where some enhancement was done to it, but all that was done was to adjust the image levels so that the clouds were more prominent:

In the second of these there’s a small spec in the image. Looking at Stellarium this appears to be Ganymede… not bad for a BlackBerry Bold 9000

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