Family viewing, new gear

Family here for Christmas and I wanted to show them the scope. Fully aware of limited interest and it being cold outside I kept it to Jupiter and the moon. Good choices; bright, easy to find, and interesting in a mostly-familiar but still novel way. It was crappy weather, misty and the moon had quite a foggy halo around it. Even so Jupiter and moons were on display well and the Moon was of course big and bright and craggy. Jupiter went over better, I think, because the moons are a novelty and the bands of clouds are recognizable. I think for everyone it was the first time seeing something that previously was theoretical.

One thing I saw and can’t explain; a little black spot in the middle of Jupiter. I thought I got lucky and caught a transit shadow, but all 4 Galilean moons were accounted for and I can’t find any evidence there was a transit at that time. Actually Io was occulted then, so what the heck was the fourth moon I saw? FWIW it was about 7pm Dec 24 local time, so 2012-12-25 03:00Z.

Last night was also my first try with the new eyepieces and Barlow lenses. I got a new eyepiece which gives me 160x magnification, and with the Barlow on the old eyepiece I now have 48x, 96x, 160x, and 320x. That 96x is a nice step up for enjoying Jupiter. The 160x was a lot more difficult to work with, things move so quickly out of the view of the scope. Already wishing I had a proper equatorial mount to track objects, particularly when trying to show someone else something. I also totally get why people pay big bucks for wide angle lenses, that seems a worthwhile investment.