Like any good astrophotographer, Brennan Gilmore is always waiting for the perfect moment to get the shot he's after. And last month's Jupiter opposition was the moment that he'd been waiting for. For just a few days, the gas giant was the closest it's been to Earth in 59 years, which allowed Gilmore to take a photo that had been a year in the making. Taken near Charlottesville, Virginia, we not only see Jupiter but also four of its moons rising up over a red barn.
The dazzling photo is the fruit of careful research and planning. Gilmore had attempted a similar shot a year ago, but didn't have the proper focal length to make the planet appear as more than a small dot in the sky. This time, he was ready.
“I began planning how to get the shot, using several apps like PlanitPro and Stellarium to find the exact spot from which I would need to shoot in order to frame the photo correctly,” he tells My Modern Met. “I scouted several potential locations on the correct line of sight axis, but all were on private property or blocked by trees or buildings. Finally, I found a vacant construction site where I could set up on the evening of the opposition of Jupiter—when the planet is at its brightest.”
Gilmore was familiar with the site, as he'd previously photographed the full moon rising behind the barn. But for all his careful planning, he wasn't entirely sure that he'd calculated everything correctly. As he was using a 2350mm focal length, he would only have seconds for the planet to move into the frame and for him to take the photo. If his calculations were off, there was no way that he would have been able to move his heavy equipment in time to get the photo.
Luckily, Gilmore's research paid off and as he saw the planet and its moons move into his viewfinder, he knew that he could breathe a sigh of relief. Just as he'd planned, Jupiter, Ganymede, Io, Europa, and Callisto were visible in the clear sky and he finally photographed an image that had been a year in the making. By capturing the moment above the barn, Gilmore also anchors this otherworldly view of the stars to our own planet.
“My favorite images marry the celestial with the terrestrial and remind viewers that our home on this planet is just a small part of a much larger, deeply interconnected cosmic system,” Gilmore shares. “Jupiter was the first planet of our solar system; its massive size and gravitational presence have a significant influence on Earth. Seeing the planet so seemingly close to a barn on our planet is hopefully a reminder of this correlation.”
See how Brennan Gilmore prepared to take his magnificent photo of Jupiter over a red barn.
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