Venus & Saturn & Sunset

Tonight was the closest approach of Venus & Saturn in this conjunction. It happened about three and a half hours before these photos, but I wasn’t able to see until after sunset. That’s life on a small, round ball of dirt and water in the midst of an extremely vast cosmos.

Speaking of sunset…

Boy, howdy! Normally the most spectacular ones I’ve seen have a lot of big clouds, but tonight was a lot of very high haze. Wowsers!

I wish this photo could event begin to show all of the layers upon layers of different shades of orange and pink and peach colors that could be seen.

While spectacular, it was also enough clouds to be obscuring what I wanted to observe, i.e., Venus and Saturn. By this time I should have easily been able to see Venus, as bright as it is. But, no joy. I wasn’t at all convinced that I would be able to see Saturn when it got a bit more dark. But I went out anyway a half hour later to see what could be seen.

Stupid moi! I had sort of forgotten about that whole “moon” thing that’s two days past new moon and just the tiniest of slivers hanging there just barely above the horizon.

The other factor which I hadn’t taken into consideration was the wind. It is freakin’ howling out there, as you can see from the palm trees. I’m glad that I shot a lot of pictures, since most of them are blurred as all get out, even with the use of my heavy, “good” tripod.

It was great to see the moon slipping below the Calabasas hills, at one point with the lit crescent part below the ridge but still with part of the Earthshine-illuminated upper arc still visible. I would share that with you but all of those pictures look like I was taking them from a trampoline mounted on a roller coaster, so you’ll have to trust me on this one and use your imagination.

As it finally got dark I could see Saturn, but it was definately dimmer than last night, caused by the thin, high cloud layer. But you can see how Saturn has moved relative to Venus, past it to the right and down toward the horizon. (Of course, remember that it’s your relative view that’s changing, we’re all seperated by almost a billion miles and they only look “near” each other since we happen to be at a particular spot in our relative orbits as we all circle the sun.)

Darkness finally, cold (into the upper 40’s, which is cold for SoCal), and the gales blowing, it was easier to see Saturn.

Remember, if you didn’t get a chance to see this tonight or last night, if you get a clear Western sky about an hour after sunset, go look anytime over the next week to ten days. The two will be separating with Venus going ↖ away from the sun and Saturn going ↘ toward the sun and getting dimmer and lost in the glare of the evening twilight. But you’ve got a few days if you’ve missed it so far. Binoculars will help, if you’ve got them.

And don’t forget Jupiter overhead, or Mars back behind you near Orion.

Get outside! Take a look!

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Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Space, Sunsets

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