Category Archives: Sunsets

A Breathing Moment

Breathing is good.

Not like, breathing as opposed to suffocating and dying. “Breathing” as in, take a couple of minutes, watch the sunset, let your shoulders relax, unclench your jaw, and try to somehow get that stupid old Pet Shop Boys song that you hate out of your head on 24/7 repeat.

You know. “Breathing.”

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Filed under Deep Thoughts, Photography, Sunsets

Venus & Jupiter Conjunction (Plus Five Days)

A few clouds moving in from the next storm make a great, colorful sunset.

But if you get enough light for the wonderful colors and spectacular gradient from pink to black, then you can only see Venus, not Jupiter. It’s fading. (I know how it feels…)

But if you let it get dark enough to see Jupiter, the clouds have started to roll in and all of the color is shot. There’s a life lesson in there somewhere.

Take what you can get, enjoy the moment, and watch the pretty planets.


Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Space, Sunsets

No Venus & No Jupiter

They’re closer tonight than they were last night – celestial mechanics is sort of unstoppable – but we saw nothing from Los Angeles.

Sunset was an exercise in Chiaroscuro – very nice.

But there was no way we were going to see Venus or Jupiter. I couldn’t even see the moon overhead.

But an interesting sunset. You take what you can get.

An hour or so later when I went to double check…

Solid overcast & rain. And apparently more of that for the next couple of days.

It would be nice to get a clear sky on Wednesday, the day of closest approach, but I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for it.

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Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Sunsets, Video, Weather

Sunset – February 18th

A little bit of color tonight.

Warming weather coming to SoCal for a day or two, then rain.

Again, we always need the rain.

But when it’s completely overcast, grey, and raining, we do miss the colorful sunsets.

It’s all a tradeoff.

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Filed under Photography, Sunsets, Weather

Clear & A Million – 832 Of Them!

If you’re a pilot, you love to hear that the weather is “clear and a million.” That’s good visibility!

But tonight as the Sun set, it wasn’t just clear and a million. It was clear and 832,517,397 kilometers, all the way to Jupiter. (The bright spot visible at the top left.)

It was also 219,199,744 km to Venus, the bright spot in the lower center.

Not bad for your standard Mark I eyeball! Of course, 30 minutes after this it was dark enough to start seeing the stars, which are much farther away. And if we had dark skies (I’m in LA – we don’t) we could see the Andromeda Galaxy…

It’s a big Universe. Go take a look!

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Horizon To Horizon

One contrail, passing from horizon to horizon.

I didn’t see the plane, but looking at what was overhead on the FlightRadar24 app, it probably came from the south…

…and headed north. Probably a Southwest flight out of San Diego to Sacramento that passed by at 40,000 feet.

The twisty remains of an older contrail? Much more character, much more photogenic. It aged well.

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Filed under Flying, Photography, Sunsets, Travel

Two Planets (OK, Well, Three)

From the backyard tonight, a bit of sunset, two bright planets high in the western sky.

Jupiter up high, just under the gap in the tree branches, Venus down low, just above the chimney.

A little better look.

From over the garage as it got darker.

Of course, from where we live, if you wait long enough, you’ll get an Identified Flying Object.

(Image from FlightRadar24)

In this case, identified as FedEx flight 1623 on final approach to Burbank Runway 8 from Portland.

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Saturn & Venus & Moon

One more night. The moon’s passing Venus and Saturn by and the two planets are also splitting. They’re pretty, but they’re not spectacular, while Saturn’s fading fast. (“Fast” = over the next couple of weeks, but still a lot dimmer than it was even a week or two ago.)

Not so much color in tonight’s sunset, but at least the wind’s gone. Mid-sunset you can barely see Saturn.

The moon is now three days old, something like 16% illuminated. Saturn is now well below Venus, much different than just two days ago. You can only wonder what the ancients thought of that, the “stars” moving around in what HAD to be a permanently fixed heaven.

Close up with a longer exposure you can still see the color difference. But Saturn’s apparent color will fade as it gets dimmer, mainly because it will only be visible against a much brighter sunset sky.

As always, the moon’s crescent is so much brighter than it seems when shooting photos. There’s a little bit of detail to be seen there.

But overexpose the illuminated crescent and the Earthshine-lit face of the moon is clearly visible.

Pulling out the iPhone for the wide angle picture, Saturn fades away completely, but now we’ve got Jupiter visible at the top.

Tonight I also had one of the local barred owls in a tree right above me, hooting like a fool, right up until I switched the iPhone to video. Then, dead silence. My video is several minutes long and it didn’t make a peep. I do wonder if turning on the camera turned on some sort of infrared illuminated focusing mechanism and that flashing IR signal was visible to the owl.

I wonder how much of this scene, moon and planets, can be seen by the owl. And what it thinks of it, if anything.

Maybe that’s just us.

Maybe not!


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Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Space, Sunsets

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

Venus & Saturn

If you have a clear Western horizon and no clouds one of the next couple of nights, take a look about 45 minutes to an hour after sunset.

(Photo by Steven Willett)

In Texas tonight, they had a more colorful sunset than we did, but up at the top center you’ll see two objects. The bright one at the bottom is Venus. Just above it, dimmer, is Saturn.


From Los Angeles’ west San Fernando Valley, there was a much more blase sunset, but the planets were no less bright, even on a cell phone.

With the good camera (Canon DSLR) and a telephoto lens you can start to see the bright white color of Venus, as well as the softer, more yellow color of Saturn. If you have a small telescope or even a decent pair of binoculars, the rings of Saturn can start to be seen.


These two have been getting closer for weeks. Venus is rising into the sunset sky, it’s apparent motion taking it away from the sun, while Saturn’s apparent motion will be taking it behind the sun from our viewpoint, so it’s sinking quickly into the evening twilight. In about two weeks it will be almost impossible to see, being too close to the sun to be seen after sunset.

Tomorrow night, just after sunset on the North American East Coast on Sunday, January 22nd, will be the closest they’ll appear to each other, both easily visible in a telescope or binocular field of view. But you’ll still see them near each other on Monday, or Tuesday, or the next several days. Just a little bit further apart every day.

But, like I remind you with all of these events, no matter what the mainstream media would like to tell you about, “***TONIGHT***, there’s this ***AMAZING*** THING going on!” it’s not just tonight. Or tomorrow. So if it’s cloudy this weekend for you, but nice on Monday or Tuesday, go look anyway. Be a rebel!

And while you’re out there and you’ve seen bright, white Venus and dimmer, yellow-ish Saturn on the Western horizon after sunset, look up, near the zenith.

That really bright object almost directly overhead? That’s Jupiter. And if you have binoculars or a telescope, the Galilean moons are easily visible.

If you stay up a little past sunset, out in the east where you see Orion (one of the easier constellations to find), look just to the west of Orion and you’ll see the Pleiades cluster (lovely!) and between it and Orion you’ll see a bright-ish red object. That’s Mars.

If you have a telescope that’s just a little bit bigger than a beginner’s model, about halfway between Mars and Jupiter you might see Uranus, a blue-green object. But you will need that telescope.

If you have a decent telescope, probably 8″ or bigger, look just to the west of Jupiter to find Neptune, which will be a deep blue color.

But remember, even if you don’t have a telescope or binoculars, even if all you have is your Standard Issue Mark I Eyeball, you can see Venus, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, and of course, that fourth planet that’s easily visible in this picture.

Earth. Third rock from the Sun. I’m sure you’ve heard of it.

Enjoy your sightseeing!


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Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Space, Sunsets