As promised: Jupiter and moons seen by SOHO

By Phil Plait | May 17, 2012 1:56 pm

A little while back, I wrote about Jupiter appearing in an image from NASA’s SOHO Sun-observing satellite. I promised that it would soon appear in a SOHO camera that had higher magnification, and we’d be able to see its moons.

I am not one to break promises:

Awesome. It helps to set the resolution to 720p to see the moons when they’re pointed out.

And just you wait: in early June, Venus will appear in the LASCO C3 and C2 cameras, on its way for a date transiting the Sun for the last time in over a century. I’ll have more about that event in a few days… I promise!

Tip o’ the occulting bar to SungrazerComets on Twitter.

Related Posts:

Jupiter, acting all superior
Lovejoy lives!
The Sun fries a comet and we got to watch
The Galilean Revolution, 400 years later

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, Pretty pictures
MORE ABOUT: Callisto, Ganymede, Jupiter, SOHO, Sun

Comments (12)

  1. Oh, that is great. Our Solar System is a busy neighborhood.

  2. MKS

    So Phil, when are you going to buy your first fabber/3-d printer/Krell machine and what is the first thing you are going to build with it?

  3. Kim

    Loved it!! I know why that brightness leaking happens, but why does it diminishes in pixels closer to the Sun? They could have rotated the camera by 90 degrees, and then the leaking wouldn’t affect viewing the moons :)

  4. Keith Hearn

    Yeah, it’s a shame that the grain on their imager is aligned with the plane of the ecliptic. Obviously they didn’t design it for viewing planetary moons. Is there a reason for the imager being aligned with the ecliptic, or is it just a coincidence?

  5. gameshowhost

    That was spiffy!

  6. Messier Tidy Upper

    Superluminous! Cheers. :-)

    SOHO sure does take some amazing images especially given this venerable long -suffering robot space observatory has endured some incredible events in its relatively long history.

    Co-incidentally, I’ve just finished reading an excellent non-fiction book – Stuart Clark’s very well written ‘The Sun Kings : The Unexpected Tragedy of Richard Carrington and the Tale of how Modern Astronomy Began’ (Princeton University Press, 2007.) – which opens with SOHO playing a strong cameo role.

    I wonder what the Solar Dynamics Observatory and the pair of STEREO solar spaceprobes have spotted and made of this Jovian-solar conjunction? Would those more modern craft have been able to capture anything like that or better still or not?

  7. That is quite clearly United Planets Cruiser C-57D, returning from the great main sequence star, Altair.

  8. Watching this reminds me just how unfamiliar I (and probably most people) are with our own system. I was totally expecting Jupiter to pass straight through the disk of the sun. Even knowing that we only rarely see Venus transit, and that the solar system is not a truly flat disk, I still had a false expectation based on a lack of experience.

  9. Michael

    I thought SOHO orbited closer to the Sun that we are. Is SOHO out beyond Jupiter?

  10. Tribeca Mike

    Tres Space Quest I VGA!

  11. @Michael SOHO is about 1.5 million kilometers closer to the Sun than we are (about 1/100 of the total distance to the Sun), it is in an orbit around the L1 Lagrangian point about where the gravitational pull of the Sun is equal but opposite to the gravitational pull of the earth.

    This ( ) is the best link I can find that shows the orbit of SOHO. I haven’t been able to find information about the specific geometry of the orbit around L1, only that it is a Lissajous orbit.

    This PDF has some nice figures to show the Lissajous orbit ( ) See page 5 figure b.

    This PDF has also has some nice figures ( ) See page 11 figures a and b. And it also has quite a bit of the math if you like linear algebra.

  12. Also in reference to my comment above, I did some quick math and if the aphelion occurs at the furthest point of the orbit below the plane of the solar system, Jupiter would be about 4.49 * 10^6 km below the plane, and Earth would be about 4.19 * 10^6 km below the plane. If both things happened at once, Jupiter would be about 1.3° below the limb of the Sun when viewed from earth.


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


See More

Collapse bottom bar