Monday, January 30, 2012

Moon, Jupiter & Venus

 It is as lovely an evening as winters allow. At 6:45 pm it's 31° and a west wind is lazily blowing from almost due west. That's where things will happen in just two and a half hours, where the moon and Jupiter will gather in the sky, just 3° apart.Even now, they're cozying up in the southern sky, high above the back porch, and I've come out to enjoy the view. Besides, placing the garage between me and the wind is a smart thing to do.

 The moon and Jupiter are already plenty close and the little bit of difference between now and 9 pm isn't enough to force me back outside so close to bedtime. So I'm standing in PJ's and a robe as it is, covered with a hoodie and a winter coat, and angling the camera atop a tripod for the best view I can get ... now.

 There above me, the moon nears its first quarter and displays a ragged bunch of craters near the terminator. I can't quite see them with my natural vision, failing as it is, but if I punch some telephoto into the camera, they resolve nicely.

 The evening is quiet and there is still a blue-black glow in the west. I don't hear a dog bark and even the traffic seems stopped for now. It is still the supper hour, I suppose.

 A wide view from this vantage shows Jupiter (l) racing the moon across the sky for its close-up meeting with the moon. To show both in the same frame, I can't use the telephoto, so both objects are small - about life-size, I'd say. Even without a telescope, if I push the camera to 20x on Jupiter, the four Galilean moons show themselves.

 You'll have to look at this picture with your lights turned down low. That bright "star" is Venus, commanding the south-western sky at the same time. I am shooting around the dinner bell,  silhouetted by the westerly glow. In the distance, the winter-bare maples stand stark and cold.

 It is a gorgeous evening, made even the better because it was predicted to be cloudy. Two of the brightest planets and the moon are putting on a free show. It's the best kind.

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