The last few weeks, Venus has been bright in the sky in the early evening, as it chases the sun in the solar plane. Tonight (and the last few nights), Mars joined Venus to its upper right, and I caught a few pictures as it dipped below the neighbor’s roof.
Once they were our of sight, I turned to the south and caught the rising, nearly-full Moon.
Tech Notes: All pictures taken with a Nikon D200 and a Sigma 50-500mm …
My efforts at astrophotography have been rough lately. The best convergences of the last few months have been cloud obscured. This included Friday night, when the full moon was only a few degrees away from Mars, which was at opposition to the Earth.
Note: Opposition is when the Earth and a planet are in line with the sun, marking their closest approach in a particular orbit of the sun. Due to the elliptical nature of the planets' orbits, not all oppositions are the same distance. On Friday, the Earth and Mars were 62 million miles from each other. The closest they can come is 35 million miles, which occurred a few years back.
Pre-dawn clouds Friday and Saturday kept me from shooting a couple of wonderful convergences this week.
Yesterday (June 19, 2009), the crescent Moon grouped with Venus and Mars. Venus was to the lower right of the Moon, and the much fainter Mars was between them. The clouds were just broken enough that I was able to get an occasional glimpse of this Friday morning, but I wasn't able to get any pictures.
The best planetary convergence of May 2009 occurred this morning, with the Moon, Venus and Mars forming a triangle in the eastern, pre-dawn sky. Being in the eastern sky, there was considerable light pollution coming from Austin and Round Rock. I didn't feel like driving to the other side of Williamson County at 5am, so I just worked with it as best I could.
Mars is in the lowest part of the images, many times only visible as a small dot. It was actually a bit more visible to the naked eye, with a clear reddish tint.