Monday, October 18, 2010

What a little magnification can do for one's perception

Jupiter's been relatively close to Earth for the last few weeks. But it was only tonight that I went out after dark with my binoculars and saw Jupiter with Io, Europa, and Ganymede, amazingly sharp and clear. After marveling at how bright and big Jupiter now was, I turned my binoculars on the moon. I can't believe I never thought of looking at the moon through my binoculars before! It looks completely different! Without the binoculars, the moon looks smooth and sleek-- like a two-dimensional relief map that can only suggest depth. But magnified, it's all rough and bumpy and textured. I could hardly believe I was looking at the same object! I think that difference blew me away as much as seeing Jupiter so bright and round, and Io, Europa, and Ganymede actually visible.

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