As I “warned” you last night, tonight Venus and the Moon were at conjunction in the sunset skies. (I realize I keep using terms that might not be familiar to some folks – a “conjunction” is just when two celestial objects come close to one another from our point of view as one or both of them are moving about in their orbits.)
Tonight I brought the telescope out into the front yard for the first time at the new house.
We’re having that good LA “heat wave” weather where it’s pretty much clear as a bell, no coastal clouds this early in the evening, and no brush fires (yet!) filling the skies with smoke.
Even I was surprised at how soon after sunset you could see both the crescent moon and Venus.
As it started to get dark, I was hoping that some of our new neighbors might mosey by to see what the new weirdo on the block had in his driveway. Sadly, none did.
The close conjunction was stunning to see with the naked eye. Through the telescope Venus was a bit over half illuminated, where the moon looked as amazing as always. With the terminator (the line between night and day) so close to the limb of the moon, the contrasts and shadows really bring out a lot of detail and depth.
Through the telephoto lens (a Tamron 70-300 zoom on a Canon Rebel xTi) you could see both the moon and Venus together. Exposures were a pain because that thin slice of the moon is so bright compared to everything else, but you can see a touch of detail.
I also looked at Jupiter and its moons, and tried briefly (in vain) to find a couple Messier galaxies in the haze near the moon and the horizon. Then one of the local neighborhood cats stopped by, mainly I suspect to see if I had any food. I didn’t, it left, and the mosquitoes came.
Before I packed up I decided to try again to see if I could just hold the iPhone camera up to the lens of the telescope and take a picture. What’s the worst that could happen?
Turns out that can work okay!
Tomorrow night the moon will be well above Venus. Next month when the meet again Venus will have started back toward the Sun and when the Moon is near they’ll be barely above the horizon less than an hour after sunset. There may be very little to be seen from here due to that big peak over there. We’ll see.
I hope you got to see the conjunction tonight! If you didn’t and you have a chance, go see it tomorrow, even if the Moon will have moved up away from Venus a bit. It will still look brilliant and awesome!