The largest planet in the solar system, Jupiter is also generally the largest planet visible from Earth at 30-40 arcsec. Venus can become larger at up to 58 arcsec, but this is rarer than Jupiter being large. Jupiter is the third-brightest planet as seen from Earth, with Venus the brightest and Mars second-brightest.

In a good telescope, Jupiter will display beautiful planet-wide cloud banding structure, occasionally the Great Red Spot, and up to (in a small telescope) four large moons, which will only look like stars. In the view above, some faint banding can be seen, but that's about it. What should be apparent, though, is that Jupiter is not a perfect sphere -- it is flattened along its equator (called ellipticity) because of its rapid rotation (just under 10 hours).

My best image so far from the University of Colorado telescopes is presented above in two versions, side-by-side. They are the same, but the one on the right has been overly processed in order to bring out otherwise hidden features. The stair-step effect in brightness on the edge of the planet is an artifact from the image stacking.

The Great Red Spot - the 400+-year-old storm on Jupiter that's 3x the size of Earth - is clearly visible in the upper right quadrant of Jupiter. Over the past few decades, it's become more bland in color than when it was really a deep red when it was named in the 1800s. Of additional (and perhaps more) interest, there is the Red Spot Jr. just above the Great Red Spot at the 11:00 position. It is about the size of Earth, and later this year, the two might interact with each other. Mainly, the other feature(s) of Jupiter is the banding structure of the clouds. Each adjacent cloud band rotates in the opposite direction as the one next to it, and they are also at different altitudes in the atmosphere.

Object Planet Jupiter
Common Name Jupiter
Date, Time, & Moon June 12, 2006 @ 11:50 PM; 99% Waning
Location SBO Telescope at CU Boulder
Optics 18" (45.7 cm) Cassegrain; 270" (686 cm) focal length; f/16
Camera Canon Digital Rebel 350D XT; ISO 100
Exposure Time 201 frames at 1/10 sec for a total of 20.1 seconds
Optical Correction No Dark- nor Flatframe-Correction
Camera Position Prime Focus
Guiding Passive Clock Drive
Processing Details Keith's Image Stacker - Stacked and Laplacian Pyramid Sharpened
PhotoShop CS - Levels Adjustment, Unsharp Mask, and Gaussian Blur
Magnitude Depth N/A
Notes Great Red Spot and Red Spot, Jr. are visible!