Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Are Jupiter's bands visible with binoculars?

  1. Mar 11, 2015 #1
    I was noticing how bright Jupiter was last night, and decided to see how it looked through my wife's 10X30 Canon binoculars that I got her for bird watching. I've never planet watched (with visual aids) before and I was pleased that I could clearly see it was a planet, and I'm pretty sure I could see a couple of it's moons too, but I could not quite make out the cloud bands. The binoculars have IS and using that while leaning against the house I actually got a pretty clear & stable view.

    I then tried with my 20X spotting scope, but I couldn't find my good tripod and the cheap one I was using wouldn't let me press my eye right up to the scope, which it has to be at full zoom, so I gave up.

    What magnification does one need to see the bands of Jupiter?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 11, 2015 #2

    wabbit

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Hi - I don't know if it is possible at 10x, not for me certainly but maybe for someone with very good eyes. In principle. In terms of resolution it should be just barely possible : Jupiter apparent diameter is about 40" so 6' at 10x, and the eye's resolving power is about 1'. The problem is that the bands are a low contrast feature, so they are much harder to distinguish than if they were say black and white.
    The fact that you're using IS can help but if you do I believe this would be a rare achievement. A tripod of course achieves the same or better stabilization.
    At 20x some people have reported seeing them (but it's easier if you're an experienced observer and know what to look for), and at 50x they should definitely be visible (jupiter then being about as big as the moon naked eye). The precise necessary magnification for you (20x, 30x, 40x ?) will depend on several factors, so its worth trying with the instruments you have (with your good tripod ! )

    Oh, and you can somewhat improve the stability of a cheap tripod by weighting it with a rock or bag of sand. I don't understand however the relation between the tripod and how close you can get your eye to the eyepiece.

    Edit : and yes, you should definitely see the moons ! Much easier than the bands.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2015
  4. Mar 11, 2015 #3
    Thanks for the informative reply - the spotting scope is a relatively inexpensive unit, I think 10x-20x zoom range. At the minimum range it's pretty easy to spot objects with and my eye just has to be close to the glass, but at max zoom the image gets smaller(?) in the eyepiece and I have to press my eye right up to it to see the image - which did not work at all with my cheap tripod because I was hunched over and at the same time looking up at a steep angle, which jiggled the scope so bad it was hopeless to try and center the planet..
     
  5. Mar 11, 2015 #4

    wabbit

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Ah I see... There's nothing more frustrating than unstable/jiggling equipment when observing : ( (oh and sticky/jumpy tracking controls ! ) much more so then subpar optics. Hopefully you'll have better luck with your good tripod. Happy planet hunting : )

    Edit : found this thread which may be of interest to you :
    http://www.cloudynights.com/topic/456574-lowest-power-you-can-see-bands-on-jupiter/
    Several say they succeeded at 30x and a few around 20x
    One more thing, though you know that if you re already a bird watcher - observing is patience and attention... It might take you quite some time before you succeed esp as this might be right at the limit of what your scope allows.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2015
  6. Mar 11, 2015 #5
    No bands for me at 12x60.
     
  7. Mar 11, 2015 #6

    wabbit

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Last edited: Mar 11, 2015
  8. Mar 11, 2015 #7
    On another note, I'm very tempted to put aside my next camera purchase and buy a telescope instead - got my eye on this one or this one
     
  9. Mar 11, 2015 #8

    davenn

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    either would be an excellent choice :smile:
     
  10. Mar 12, 2015 #9

    Drakkith

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Agreed. Both look like good scopes for their price range.
     
  11. Mar 12, 2015 #10

    wabbit

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    No experience with those but they are probably good choices - in a similar price range, you might also want to consider a small apo/ed doublet or a good achromat refractor on a good (very important and not terribly expensive) altaz mount, this is a highly portable/grab and go.setup that you'd pick up and set up in no time, and a pleasure to use. The ones I.have are no longer in production but something like the Williams Optics 71ED looks very nice to me.
     
  12. Mar 12, 2015 #11
    Yes, I'm just starting to research various telescopes and may start another thread if I have any more questions. One I can think of now is would I be getting more optical "bang for my buck" by getting one with bigger glass (8" or 10", refractor, reflector, dobsonian?) but without all the computerized tracking/finding etc. - or is the computerized mount money well spent..
     
  13. Mar 12, 2015 #12

    wabbit

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Oh yes if you want the best light gathering ability bang for the buck, by all means go for a 6" or 8" dobsonian. Orion has nice ones, but many others also do, and you can find excellent instruments for a very good price there. Plus they're a pleasure to use, and quite portable too if not as much so as a small refractor.

    Note - a 10" is great, but do think about weight/setup/cooldown time if you start aiming for the bigger guns. Sometimes small really is beautiful. Myself i prefer small/medium scopes (and looking through other people's bigger beasts), but it's really a personnal matter. Just don't sell those smaller ones short, they can still do wonders. My little 3"f/6 refractor I started out with was the one everyone wanted to try the first time I went to a star party : )

    And yes there is a special section in the forum for this so if you want detailed advice you could post there.

    Oh and the standard advice here : do hook up with your local astronomy club, most likely people there will be happy to let you try their equipment and it's the best way to find out what is right for your tastes. Plus you meet people with the same interest and get guidance, observing tips etc.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2015
  14. Mar 12, 2015 #13

    Drakkith

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I highly recommend sticking to an aperture under 6 inches, at least to start out with. The size and weight of a telescope + mount starts to become a problem when you get into apertures 8-inches and larger.
     
  15. Mar 12, 2015 #14

    davenn

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    That and starting out with a smaller sized scope and lower investment is a good thing till you see if astronomy is something you really want to get into
    There are those that have purchased larger scopes and after a year or so have lost interest and now have this very nice expensive outlay sitting in a corner gathering dust

    Dave
     
  16. Mar 12, 2015 #15
    Actually I did a bit of looking and am thinking seriously of getting one of the three cheapest units on this page from Costco for now - cheapest is about than the price of a tank of diesel for my truck, should give me some decent views of the planets, moon etc.

    Then perhaps later I can look for a bargain from one of those folks that like you say, have lost interest and just have an expensive one sitting around :-)
     
  17. Mar 12, 2015 #16

    davenn

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Last edited: Mar 24, 2015
  18. Mar 24, 2015 #17

    Chronos

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Forget about department store scopes. Better to buy direct from a real telescope dealer, or direct from the manufacturer. High volume telescopes, like those carried by department stores, strongly tend to be overpriced, of dubious quality, or both. It will also spare you the possible indignity of stargazing with a garden gnome in public.
     
  19. Mar 24, 2015 #18

    davenn

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    He's already looking at good brand scopes :smile:
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Are Jupiter's bands visible with binoculars?
  1. Blue Band Around Jupiter (Replies: 14)

  2. Telescope or binoculars? (Replies: 10)

  3. Absence of Jupiter (Replies: 19)

  4. Binocular Questions (Replies: 20)

  5. Jupiter as a star (Replies: 3)

Loading...