The past few days have offered several opportunities for photographing objects in the sky.
Mercury (Magnitude â€“0.2) and Venus (Magnitude â€“3.9) are very low in the evening twilight right now and a bit difficult to see with the unaided eyeâ€”but a camera can do a better job at picking out the small but bright planets. The two planets are separated by about 7Â°.
At the same time, Jupiter (Magnitude â€“2.0) and the Moon made a close pass last night with about 2.5Â° of separation. These, of course, were much easier to see.
And, a few days ago, the International Space Station (ISS) flew in front of the Sun as seen from my house. I didn’t even have to travelâ€”just set up the camera in the driveway. The entire flyby takes less than one second. Warning! A proper solar filter is required. I use a filter made by Kendrick Astro Instruments.
This week the waning moon joined four planets in the eastern sky. Lowest to the horizon was Mercury with Saturn just above. The moon was located well above that pair. And high in the sky were Mars and Jupiter.
Earlier this month on 07 January 2018, Mars and Jupiter were in conjunction. The pair was only 0.25 degrees apart in the sky at its closest. By comparison, the full moon is approximately 0.50 degrees.Â And, then, on 13 January 2018, Mercury and Saturn were in conjunctionâ€”but not quite as close as the Mars-Jupiter conjunction.
On the 14th and 15th, the Moon was just above and just below the pair of Mercury and Saturn.
I had planned to photograph on both days but clouds intervened. All I got was this thin crescent Moon (~2% illuminated) that was visible for only a few minutes before it was obscured by clouds.
Coming up: at the end of the month there will be a total lunar eclipse that will be visible in the pre-dawn hours of the western states. I hope the skies are clear.
Earlier this week (13 November 2017) there was an opportunity to view a conjunction of the planets Venus and Jupiter in the pre-dawn sky. Venus is the brightest planet in the sky while Jupiter is the second brightest (and, of course, the largest). Pairings of these two planets in either the morning or evening sky are always an amazing sight. At closest approach, the distance separating the two planets was less than the diameter of the full moon. Jupiter was rising a bit higher each morning while Venus was dropping closer to the horizon.
For three mornings I shot photos of the morning sky. I then took the images from each day and created a layered image. Next, I shifted each image up/down, left/right until the planet Jupiter lined up. The result was that the composite contains a single image of Jupiter along with three images of Venus. This makes it easy to see how the two planets were shifting relative to each other over the course of three days.
But the show wasn’t over, yet. The waning moon was dropping lower in the sky each morning and on 16 November was located just above the pair of planets. About 4% of the moon is directly illuminated by the sun; the remainder is illuminated by Earthshine.
The past severalÂ weeks have presented opportunities to photograph objects in the night sky. Exceptionally clear skies and dark nights allowed me to capture some long exposures of portions of the Milky Way. Other nights had interesting alignments of the moon with one of more planets.
Early in September, Venus and Jupiter aligned with the Moon in a nearly straight line in the western sky just after sunset. Compare this with an image taken a month earlier. In the course of a month, Mercury has dropped below the horizon while Venus and Jupiter have switched locations with Venus rising higher in the sky as Jupiter dips lower.