Jupiter appearing flashy - red on top, blue bottom

  • #1
bahamagreen
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TL;DR Summary
Been noticing something in night sky flashy with red and blue. Identified as Jupiter; any explanation for the flashy colors?
Jupiter.jpg


Been noticing this for a few evenings; didn't know it was Jupiter until this evening using https://stellarium-web.org/ (image from this evening).
Has been distinctly flashy more than other objects with a slight red flash at the top and a blue flash close to the bottom. Last night I looked with binoculars and confirmed the flashiness and the colors.
Stellarium indicates four moons are near or within the subtended angle of Jupiter's disc. Wonder if position(s) of Jupiter's moon(s) might be the cause - refraction? diffraction? dispersion? lateral chromatic aberration (from the source)?
 

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  • #2
Drakkith
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Wonder if position(s) of Jupiter's moon(s) might be the cause
I doubt it. I don't think their brightness and angular separation from Jupiter are large enough to cause this.

Has been distinctly flashy more than other objects with a slight red flash at the top and a blue flash close to the bottom.
Planets don't typically experience this sort of optical phenomenon, as they have a much larger angular diameter than stars do, so I'm not sure what could be causing it. Perhaps an exceptionally turbulent atmosphere?
 
  • #3
anorlunda
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Might you be seeing aurora on Jupiter?
1628939070449.png
 
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  • #5
Drakkith
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Might you be seeing aurora on Jupiter?
With the naked eye? I find that extremely unlikely. I think you'd be hard pressed to see an aurora on Jupiter even through a telescope. Probably comparable to trying to see an aurora here on Earth during the daytime.
 
  • #7
bahamagreen
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I just looked now, naked eye and binoculars.
With naked eye there is a red dot at the top of the disc that appears and disappears every few seconds with a general flashiness near the bottom of the disc.
With binoculars, the general flashiness looks more green than blue, the red dot is easy to see.
May I ask that people take a look, naked eye and with equipment, to at least confirm and maybe better describe what is seen?
 
  • #8
davenn
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I just looked now, naked eye and binoculars.
With naked eye there is a red dot at the top of the disc that appears and disappears every few seconds with a general flashiness near the bottom of the disc.
With binoculars, the general flashiness looks more green than blue, the red dot is easy to see.
May I ask that people take a look, naked eye and with equipment, to at least confirm and maybe better describe what is seen?

You really sure it's Jupiter ?
Planets don't scintillate but stars do

where in the world are you and what direction are you looking
and I will see if I can spot it on my astronomy program
 
  • #9
bahamagreen
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That is why I am asking... Jupiter is much more flashy than any other objects. The colors are particularly of interest.
I am in Houston. Early posts were from early evening looking SSW. The last post was from pre-dawn looking NNW.
Spotting it on a program to confirm it's Jupiter would be good. Take a look when you get a chance to describe the color features, please.
 
  • #10
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I am in Houston. Early posts were from early evening looking SSW. The last post was from pre-dawn looking NNW.
That doesn't sound like it's the same object.
 
  • #11
Drakkith
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That is why I am asking... Jupiter is much more flashy than any other objects. The colors are particularly of interest.
I am in Houston. Early posts were from early evening looking SSW. The last post was from pre-dawn looking NNW.
Spotting it on a program to confirm it's Jupiter would be good. Take a look when you get a chance to describe the color features, please.
If your directions are correct, then that cannot be Jupiter. Jupiter is in the southwest in the early morning and the southeast in the early evening.
 
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  • #12
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And by the same token, it can't be any single astronomical object. If it's near Jupiter in the morning, it can't be on the other side of the sky by evening.
 
  • #13
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Airplane navigation lights are red and green, and anti-collision lights flash red.
 
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  • #14
bahamagreen
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Stellarium right now, my local time 11:21 AM with the Sun up in the sky (I just checked) is indicating the time is 21:12 PM and showing the Sun under the horizon... with the location indicated "near Houston".
So yes, likely not Jupiter. Thanks everyone so far, would like to figure out what it is.
 
  • #15
DaveC426913
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I would bet money that what the OP is seeing is the planetary equivalent of scintillation (twinkling).

Planets are not immune to atmospheric distortion; it's just that they will jiggle in place, rather than point-to-point.

And the red/blue makes sense too, when you consider the differing refractivity of red and blue light.

I'll bet even more that, were one to train a scope on ol' Jupe, you would still see it jumping up and down, flashing red and blue.

1629046725649.png
 
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  • #16
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  • #17
bahamagreen
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Looks like Stellarium finds my location automatically but does not use that to fix the time. I just corrected the time and reloaded the web page... the time reverted back to 21:05 PM and showed a night sky.
I will correct the time to sidereal time this evening and see if I can correctly identify the object.
 
  • #18
DaveC426913
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How much?
And real money or loonies?
Real Canadian money of course!
1629047140843.png
 
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  • #19
bahamagreen
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After determining sidereal time, I realize Stellarium is automatically showing correct sidereal time for my location, but is still showing a night sky with the Sun under the horizon.
May have to find a different sky application.
 
  • #20
davenn
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May have to find a different sky application.

there's nothing wrong with Stellarium is you have time and location set properly
 
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  • #21
russ_watters
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I would bet money that what the OP is seeing is the planetary equivalent of scintillation (twinkling).

Planets are not immune to atmospheric distortion; it's just that they will jiggle in place, rather than point-to-point.

And the red/blue makes sense too, when you consider the differing refractivity of red and blue light.

I'll bet even more that, were one to train a scope on ol' Jupe, you would still see it jumping up and down, flashing red and blue.

View attachment 287572
This is absolutely the right answer: Refraction plus scintillation on a bright object that is low to the sky.
 
  • #22
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Refraction plus scintillation on a bright object that is low to the sky.
Or two different bright objects.
 
  • #23
DaveC426913
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Or two different bright objects.
...something something multiplying entities unnecessarily.. something...:wink:
 
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  • #24
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...something something multiplying entities unnecessarily.. something...

Nonsense. Jupiter was not where he claimed it to be. See upthread.
 
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  • #25
russ_watters
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Or two different bright objects.

[separate post]

Nonsense. Jupiter was not where he claimed it to be. See upthread.
That's not an answer to the OP's question. The OP wasn't asking what object he was looking at, he was asking why it was flashing red and blue.
 
  • #26
DaveC426913
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Nonsense. Jupiter was not where he claimed it to be. See upthread.
1. I checked upthread before posting. I may be wrong but, as far as I can tell, he hasn't gotten a definitive answer from his software, so the jury is still out on that.

2. I am perfectly happy with it being any other planetary body.
 
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  • #27
bahamagreen
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Stellarium is figured out, works properly.
Start with the Moon and there are four stars leading out to the left... the flashy object is the third one: Antares.
Please have a look.
 
  • #28
Office_Shredder
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  • #29
russ_watters
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Google is happy to report you are not the first to ask this question, so you probably identified it right this time

https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/547826-antares-particular-blinking-apearance/

The only things you knew at this point are that it blinks and it's not Jupiter. I don't feel like the evidence pointed towards it being a planet...
With a reminder of what the OP's question was (it was not "what object did I see?"), the answer from cloudynights is the same as the answer given by @DaveC426913 in post #15.

Also, this 'planet or star?' debate is a red herring because the popular belief that planets don't twinkle because they aren't point sources isn't quite correct unless "twinkling" is narrowly defined to exclude objects above a certain size (atmospheric seeing size).
 
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  • #30
DaveC426913
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This is the effect to which I was referring.

http://www.ianmorison.com/combating-atmospheric-dispersion/

"It appears as a vertical spectrum. As blue light is preferentially scattered in the atmosphere, the blue end is less bright. This is an extreme result of atmospheric dispersion – the atmosphere acting as a prism."

1629148952167.png

Combine this with scintillation, and you have a point of light that switches between red and blue.

Granted, the above is Mercury, but the effect applies to stars too, especially ones with a non-point disc.

OP: how high in the sky was it? The effect is more pronounced the lower in the sky it is.
 
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  • #31
bahamagreen
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Estimate about 30 degrees.
Antares is going to be just right and slightly lower than the moon this evening.
 
  • #32
sophiecentaur
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That's not an answer to the OP's question. The OP wasn't asking what object he was looking at, he was asking why it was flashing red and blue.
If it's a atmospheric effect then wouldn't everything else be doing it too?

If there's something special about planet viz, compared with stars then Saturn is not far away from Jupiter in the sky and you could expect the same weird effect. From a quick dabble with Stellarium, it seems likely that Big J is South and high in the sky (40deg up) at around midnight in Houston. In UK it's low at the mo and hard to see at its best. We have to wait for a couple of months, I think.
There is another possibility and that is the OP's actual vision (or dirty glasses??). J is pretty bright. But he says it's similar with binoculars. However, X8 is not a lot of magnification and J doesn't look very big - just brighter - until you use a bit of telescope magnification. It's very bright though and could be giving his eyes a harder time than anything else up there. (The Moon can be so bright that it's painful through a big scope and could give bad chromatic effects at its edge.) Planetary imaging tends to need a specialised scope with long objective + Barlow if you want to get a lot of pixels. A new club member was moaning, the other night, that he can't get convincing views of Jupiter and didn't seem to take my point about needing different gear for planets. (I blame all those stunning images that people post these days).

PS I suggested a possible vision problem because early cataracts seriously hamper my seeing many stars. It's only in dark conditions that it's a problem and your regular eye test doesn't explore that problem. The problem is that we (sufferers) often regard our vision as normal. (Same with hearing and my daughter made me get 'Deaf Aids' - magic! Bless her)
 
  • #33
DaveC426913
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If it's a atmospheric effect then wouldn't everything else be doing it too?
Yes. Everything does.
 
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  • #34
sophiecentaur
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Yes. Everything does.
The original scenario was confusing. So it's just lousy weather for astronomy. What's new?
 
  • #35
DaveC426913
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A few years ago, I noticed this in my own swimming pool. I'd never seen such a thing and didn't know if it had a name but I figured out what it was.

Looking at things on the bottom of the pool at an oblique angle (the obliquer the better), everything had a halo of blue-green on its top edge and red on its bottom edge. Objects did not have any halo on their sides.

1629236716633.png
 
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