Jewels In The Sunset, June 20th

Last night the young, crescent  moon moved up toward Jupiter and Venus, which are both in turn moving toward each other over the next ten days. Tonight, the sun set at 19:54 local time. 01_IMG_8059 small

20:20, 0:26 after sunset. The moon’s easy to spot, which tells you where to look for Venus, which is also easy. Jupiter is a bit harder, juuuuuuuust barely visible as the top point of a triangle formed by the three bodies. I actually saw it first looking at this picture on the camera screen, then was able to find it by eye.

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20:26, 0:32 after sunset. Jupiter’s can now be seen with the naked eye.

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20:35, 0:41 after sunset. The sky is no longer quite blue, more of an indigo color. All three objects are clearly visible.

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20:44, 0:47 after sunset. You can start to clearly see the dark portion of the moon illuminated by Earthshine.

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20:45, 0:48 after sunset. Out of curiosity, after noticing that I could see Jupiter’s moons in last night’s pictures, can I see them during the day as well? (Well, maybe not “during the day,” but at least well before the end of astronomical twilight.) Yes, yes I can.

Click on the image to enlarge to full size. All four Galilean moons are visible. In the upper left, from the outside in, are Callisto, Europa, and Io (which has just emerged from behind Jupiter). In the lower right is Ganymede.


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20:53, 0:59 after sunset. A short enough exposure (1/500 second) to show detail on the crescent moon without overexposing the lit portion makes it look a bit darker than it really is.

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20:58, 1:04 after sunset. Now it’s getting dark and there are our jewels in the sunset. Again, tomorrow night the moon will be a bit more illuminated and roughly 15° higher, while Venus and Jupiter will be a bit closer.

Put Tuesday night, June 30th, on your calendar. On that night, Jupiter and Venus will be so close that the moon could cover them both. (It won’t, it will be past full by that time and way over there in the sky, but it’s a good visual reference for how close they’ll be.)

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21:17, 1:23 after sunset. Now past the end of nautical twilight and into astronomical twilight. Everyone walking their dog asks what they’re looking at – one guy says, “Oh, you’re that amateur astronomer guy.”

Cool! Yes, I am that amateur astronomer guy. My reputation has apparently spread through the neighborhood. Just wait until Halloween, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

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21:21, 1:27 after sunset. One last look at Jupiter now that it’s dark. With a longer exposure, Jupiter’s overexposed and Io’s lost in the glare.

Tomorrow’s going to be just as long and nuts as today was, but maybe Monday night I can drag out one of the telescopes to take a shot at Jupiter that way…


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