29 October 2008

iPhone Astronomy

iPhone-based astrophotography is begun. Below is an image of Jupiter taken by an iPhone through an 8" Meade Cassegrain telescope by amateur astronomer Mike Weasner.

Jupiter with moons and stripes

Note that on the right you can see three of the moons of Jupiter - this is similar to what Galileo saw when looking through his small 2" refracting telescope, hence the four largest moons are dubbed the Galilean moons in his honor. Continued observations of Jupiter over the course of days, months, and even years led Galileo to the realization that they were orbiting Jupiter, not the Earth, and therefore the Earth was not the center of the universe.

Another thing you can see in this image is that the face of Jupiter has bands across it. Galileo could not see these himself, but he saw other "irregularities" or deviations from perfection on the Moon (craters), Saturn (rings, which he couldn't identify as such), and Venus (phases, like we see our Moon go through naked-eye). These other features also helped support Galileo's claim that the universe was NOT perfect, and did NOT revolve around the Earth. Rest assured if he had seen stripes on Jupiter, he would have recorded such a fact.

So this little iPhone image is better than what the father of modern astronomy saw himself.


For more information on this image and the telescope used, see also:
* Bad Astronomy (Dr. Phil Plait)
* The Mac Observer (John Martellaro)
* Weasner's Mighty ETX Site (Mike Weasner)
* Meade Telescopes, LX200-ACF model

1 comment:

Matt Jacobs said...

So if someone discovers something new using an iPhone does Apple get to name it?