COSAM News Articles 2023 December Auburn University Astronomy Terrace captures transit of Jupiter’s moon Io

Auburn University Astronomy Terrace captures transit of Jupiter’s moon Io

Published: 01/09/2024

On the evening of Saturday, Nov. 4, Jupiter’s moon Io crossed the face of the gas giant in an astronomical phenomenon known as a “transit,” which occurs when a smaller celestial body, such as a moon, passes in front of a larger one. Auburn University physics faculty Uwe Konopka, Melissa Halford and Stuart Loch captured images of the transit from Auburn’s rooftop astronomy terrace. They compiled these images into a movie showcasing Io and the shadow it cast on Jupiter.

This astronomical event became an educational opportunity for students enrolled in the introductory astronomy class, PHYS 1150, taught by Konopka and physics graduate student Mason Sake. The students learned data analysis skills by processing images of the transit to enhance their quality.

During PHYS 1150 lab sessions, students practice each step in the process of astronomical imaging as they learn about the nature of the cosmos. They perform hands-on observations with the terrace telescopes and digital cameras, then process and enhance the data with astronomical software packages. The lab time on the terrace not only deepens their understanding of astronomy but is also a very rewarding experience as they generate intricate images, revealing remarkable details of celestial objects.

A compilation of student images, along with a single image showing one frame in more detail, are seen to the right.

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