Missed Conjunction

The evening of August 27, 2016, was scheduled to feature the conjunction of the planets Venus and Jupiter shortly after sunset, a marvellous mere ½ degree apart, the same as the apparent diameter of the Moon, which is pretty darn close in a big, big sky. That’s a must-see in my book! As a last minute decision I went for the best nearby vantage point I could think of, which was the west side of Slottsfjellet (“Castle Mountain”) in Tønsberg, a mere 20 minute drive from home. I was gonna shoot me some planets!


Hiding behind them there cloudses

Although the sky was mostly clear and outstandingly beautiful with the sunset and all, I missed the conjunction on account of lovely but otherwise annoying clouds on the horizon. On the upside, on account of wearing shorts, I have several brand new mosquito bites to keep me entertained the next few days.


Screenshot from Star Walk overlayed on camera view

I followed the planets until they were well below the horizon. Not only were they hiding behind clouds the whole time, the sky was still bright enough that they probably wouldn’t have been very visible anyway.

According to Space.com, “the next time Venus and Jupiter will get this close will be in November 2065,” by when I will be a whopping 96 years young. Bring it on!

In the mean time I’ll just leave you with this.


Screenshot from Star Walk overlayed on camera view

The sky beneath my feet.
Stars.
Space.
Darkness and light.
Emptiness.
And grass.

~

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Planetary Diagonal


2015 © Bjørnar Andre Haveland. Click for larger image.

Eastern sky at 05:51 today (above). Had a lovely view of the crescent moon, with several planets all lined up as if begging to be taken pictures of. Now, in a hurry, as always, to get to the bus to work on time, I couldn’t spare the moments I would have needed in order to fish out the Nikon and play with settings, so this iPhone shot was the best I could do under the circumstances. Terribly annoying, to be honest. Of course the iPhone can in no way do the actual sight any justice at all.

This near 45° line-up consists of (from bottom left) the moon, Venus (brightest), Mars (that barely visible wee li’l smudge of light above and left of Venus) and Jupiter at the upper right.

The thin, crescent moon was precisely the right brightness for this group picture. It’s a shame my equipment wasn’t up to it. I can always try again tomorrow, and make sure I bring both the time and the tools required for the job, but the moon moves quite a distance in the sky from day to day, counter-clockwise*, so tomorrow at this time it will still be well below the horizon. I’m sure that yesterday and the day before that, it was even better, but I wasn’t there to see it. Timing, alas, is everything.

* Clockwise would have been so much better, in which case I would simply have quietly decided to wait and instead bring you the splendidest pictures I that could muster tomorrow.


2015 © Bjørnar Andre Haveland. Click for larger image.

Here (above) I’ve boosted the exposure and contrast somewhat to make Mars a little more visible next to Venus. It’s still barely more than a bright pixel, almost lost in noise, but at least a bit more noticeable than the faint smudge in the first picture.


2015 © Bjørnar Andre Haveland. Click for larger image.

Off the bus, an hour and a half later, give or take, even though I had sufficient time before starting work to take more pictures, the sky had grown far too bright for it. Mars was not at all visible, and Venus and Jupiter just barely so, even the moon was struggling to make itself known against the morning light. They’re still there, though, except for Mars. Can you find them?

Still, weather permitting, I’ve half a mind to bring the tripod for the Nikon tomorrow, along with a few minutes extra time, and at least capture the planets, if not the moon.

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