Friday, November 28, 2008

Venus - Jupiter (again)

If you've read the blog from earlier today, you've watched Venus begin to overtake Jupiter as I photographed it last night. Here are photos taken just a few minutes ago. First (below) is a wide angle shot of the two planets in the southwestern sky, Venus below. They will be vertically lined in the next day and a half. Too bad my weather is not going to cooperate. This will probably be my last view of the conjunction, but sans the Moon.

Punching in a little telephoto and the two planets resolve a little bit. It was chilly (32 degrees) as I stood in the backyard and shot these. But it was pleasantly calm and clear. Just about perfect but for our neighbor, Sam, who chose this moment to drive out his lane. I knelt and enjoyed the view while I waited for his truck to pass and motor north on S. Clayton Road.

Finally, I wanted to have a closer look at Venus. This is a 12x shot with the camera alone; no telescope is needed to see that Venus is a disk and not a point of light like a star. Compare it, in fact, to the stars that share this frame. One star (just to the left of Venus) looks as though it will soon be occluded or perhaps grazed by Venus passing just above.

So much for this astronomical event unless the weather forecast is totally bogus. But what an excellent view, even without the moon joining in!

ADDED (11/30): Last evening I saw that it was still going to be clear so I went out again, camera on tripod, and took some more pictures. In the first shot (below) you can see how Venus has moved left of Jupiter and how, on the far right, the crescent Moon has joined the two in the sky. This picture, taken at 6:13 p.m., is just prior to moonset.

And this shot (below), taken from our back porch, shows the planets sandwiched in between our now-leafless Sycamore and a pine (that's the roof of the barn to the right on the pine).

And so that's likely the end of it for me. Clouds moved in overnight and it's been raining most of the morning. There's almost no chance I'll have another look at this conjunction.
On the WCPO (Cincinnati, channel 9) morning news, they mentioned how they had received numerous calls about the two lights in the southwestern sky. Doesn't anyone follow astronomical happenings any longer? What could be more exciting than the chance alignment of two planets, all visible from our own backyard?

ADDED (#2): Saved by Jerry Drumheller, a friend at Cornell University (Ithaca, NY), who took the shot below as he was leaving Carpenter Hall (the Engineering Library) and heading home for the day. He took this picture as he walked across the parking lot. Finally, a view of all three objects as they huddled closely. Thanks, Jerry!