Jupiter in 3D

By Phil Plait | June 30, 2010 7:35 am

I love anaglyphs (3D pictures) and I love astronomy animations and I love Jupiter, so how much do you think I love this anaglyph animation of Jupiter?

[Note: the embedded version here shows it as two separate animations. Go to the YouTube page and you’ll see a 3D label at the bottom of the player. Click that, and you can set the animation to be red/green or lots of other options. Currently, I can’t seem to embed the video that way, so again I urge you to go to the YouTube page.]

This is from Chris Owen, an amateur astronomer equipped with a 25 cm (10″) Newtonian ‘scope (the same kind I had for about 20 years!). The animation shows Jupiter over the course of about 2.5 hours, with one exposure taken every five minutes. You can also watch Europa and Io, two of Jupiter’s big moons, orbiting the planet as well. He created the animation straight, then converted it to 3D. You can see the original on his DeviantArt page — that’s a 3 Mb image, which is why I didn’t embed it, but click it to see because it’s cool.

I like the 3D version; you really get a sense that Jupiter is a ball, and it’s nifty to be able to see the two moons as being farther away than the planet itself, proven positively by seeing Europa physically go behind Jupiter as it orbits. Note too that these observations were made last year, before the Southern Equatorial Belt disappeared.

While these animations are a bit of fun, I suspect they will actually give people more of a sense that these objects aren’t just points of light in the sky, but worlds. I’m a fan of things that give people a deeper connection to the Universe, so I really like these anaglyphs!


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