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

Still Cool

Coming up on thirteen years now. Our first convertible, this display and features were top of the line.

Now the list of features looks sort of shabby and second-rate compared to economy cars that cost half of what we paid for this lustmobile.

But still… Mash on the gas and the giddy up giddies right on up there! It’s comfy, it drives really nice.

The tunes still pump out nice and loud when need be. (I believe it was a little bit of Pat Benatar that was threatening my eardrums when this picture was taken on a whim while waiting in the drive-thru line at Carl’s Jr.)

And it’s paid for.

What could be bad?

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Filed under Deep Thoughts, Photography

Venus & Jupiter & Satellites

I thought these pictures were interesting, if far from perfect. They’re from the February 26th batch of pictures, three days before the Jupter & Venus conjunction.

They run from three seconds to eight seconds and they were shot with a 300mm zoom lens and the wind was blowing like a demon, so you can see that they’re a bit jittery and smeared as the camera bounced around.

That’s not why I want to share them with you.

Blow each of them up to full sized (click on the image) and you’ll see a number of very faint but visible criss-crossed lines. Better yet, save them or load all five photos in and the flip through them to animate them a bit.

You’ll see at least five items crossing the field, the faint lines getting longer as the exposures get longer.

These are satelittes, and given their close proximity to each I suspect they might be part of a Starlink swarm.

The only orbiting objects I normally capture is the ISS, which is brighter than Venus or Jupiter here. Yet at random, here I’ve spotted at least five background objects over the course of a thirty-seven second series of pictures.

When you see news articles about the Hubble Space Telescope or ground-based telescopes having trouble with all of the satellites up there ruining their observations, believe them!

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Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Space

Venus & Jupiter Conjunction Plus Two

The official conjunction, the closest approach that these two planets came to, was March 1st. It’s now March 3rd, two days later.

It was a nice day, the first day in several weeks that it got up near 70º.

As promised, the planets continue to separate.

As promised, they’ll do this for a couple of weeks.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! Go look at some stars and planets!


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Venus & Jupiter Conjunction Plus One

Yesterday they were side by side and close – today, Jupiter has moved a little below Venus.

It’s been a busy, busy day and I’m late, so I’m not bothering to clean up all of the dead pixels using PhotoShop tonight.

Nor am I going to blather on about how you can see something sort of like this for the next week or two.

Just go out and see it for yourself when you get a chance!

With the iPhone you get a much wider, brighter picture.

There were a few clouds, but not bad. Enough to add “character.”

But the iPhone doesn’t zoom in for beans compared to the DSLR with the big lens.

Finally, and this isn’t a great picture because there was some wind and vibration, but if you look at Jupiter, tonight you can see three of the Galilean moons!


Filed under Astronomy, Photography

Venus & Jupiter Conjunction

The clouds cleared!

When it was still dusk the two planets (Jupiter on the left, Venus on the right) the sky was still bright enough to require short exposures, which still showed the two BRIGHT planets like jewels in the sunset.

Throughout all of these pictures, especially the more close-up views like this one, “above” Jupiter you’ll easily see two other dots. These would be Callisto on top and Ganymede closer to Jupiter. (If you’re ever looking at Jupiter using binoculars or a small telescope and want to know which moon is which, try this free app on the Sky & Telescope website.)

Again, if you didn’t or couldn’t see this tonight, look tomorrow, or Saturday, or any day for the next couple of weeks. Jupiter will be going “down,” getting closer to the Sun from our viewpoint, and Venus will be going “up,” away from the Sun. They’ll be a little further from each other every day, but they’ll still be visible for several weeks.

After I filled the memory card on my camera at the good viewing site, I came back home to reload and then just went out into the front yard for more pictures.

A lot more lights interfering here, but even my iPhone 13 takes some really decent pictures of the event.

Even the wide-angle view looks impressive.

When I mention “Castle Peak” (which remains stubbornly non-snow-capped!), that’s it right there below the planets. It’s about a half-mile away as the raven flies.

I saw so many folks driving by on their way home from work and I wonder how many of them saw this amazing sight or paid any attention to it.

Finally, I dragged out the “light bucket” wide angle lens. Double click on this picture to see it full-sized. It’s spectacular!

There’s a lot of lens flares from all of the porch lights and the street lights just out of view to both the left and right. But this lens also gives me razor sharp focus, and there’s a LOT to see besides the two bright planets just above Castle Peak.

Look up at the top, just to the left of center. See that “V” shape of stars, with the top end star of the left arm being brighter and red? That star is Aldebaran and the constellation is Taurus.

Just to the lower right of that, about dead center, is a cluster of stars. Those are the Pleiades, M45.

I can’t wait to get this camera out to a dark sky location to see what it can do without all of those lights and lens flares!



Filed under Astronomy, Photography

Goodbye February Clouds

It has been an unusually cloudy February around these parts. While that might normally be a novel, interesting, and very much needed thing, this year it comes at the end of a rather wet and rainy and cloudy December and January and there’s something in the sky that I want to watch!

Again tonight it was completely overcast by sunset, and by the time it got dark an hour later it was raining hard again.

No Venus and Jupiter tonight, again. That’s six of the last eight nights where I’ve been shut down by weather.

At least the weather looks to be better in the near future. We might even have a clear sky for tomorrow night, when the two bright planets will appear the closest to each other in the western sky at sunset.

If you’ve got a clear sky tomorrow at sunset, go take a look. Again, no equipment needed, although if you have binoculars you should be able to see the Galilean moons of Jupiter.

If you’re clouded out tomorrow, go take a look the next night. Or the next night. Or on the weekend. Or…

You know the drill. This is not a “tomorrow” thing, although the mainstream media will work hard to generate clickbait headlines. Jupiter will be heading toward the horizon and Venus will be heading up into the sky so they’ll pull apart for the next two or three weeks before Jupiter heads around the far side of the Sun from our viewpoint and Venus will be left by itself to be BRIGHT in the evening sky.


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Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Weather

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

Venus & Jupiter

It’s cold by LA standards (44º headed toward a low of about 37º – note that there are plenty of places up in the mountains which get much lower routinely because they can go up to over 10,000′) but the winds were down and the skies were clear (at least to the west, which is all that counts for this) so it was time for more pictures of the conjunction.

Jupiter’s on the top, Venus on the bottom.

They’re getting much closer together – compare to the pictures from four days ago.

With the 300mm lens I can’t QUITE get the focus sharp enough to see the planets as pinpoints and in turn see the Galilean moons near Jupiter. BUT, if you blow this picture up to full size you can see a dot just below Jupiter and another just at the top (more of a bump, just touching) which are Ganymede and Europa respectively.

Four days ago there was a crescent moon there. It’s moved on and is almost overhead, and about a quarter full. (Click on the photo to enlarge it to full sized, some nice detail there.)

As seen against the background stars, Venus is moving up and Jupiter is moving down. There’s nothing astronomically significant about a conjunction like this, it’s just a coincidence that happens periodically that the planets appear to be near each other from our position.

But it’s very pretty. They’ll be their closest on March 1st, four days from now. (I’m sure we’ll have more clouds between now and then.)

You should go see it if you can, it’s incredibly simple, a naked eye event. Find a cloudless evening about 45 minutes to an hour after sunset, look to the west. There they are!

Go admire the universe!

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Early Spring Bee Buffet

When picking up the mail earlier in the week (obviously not from today, since we’re still cloudy, cold, windy, and awaiting the snow level to drop just a BIT more) I noticed that the plant at the base of the mailbox has bloomed purple all over the place again.

It seems early, but there seems to be a lot of that going around the planet this year. I just remember from previous years that when these things bloom, the bees start showing up again.

I don’t know where they’ve been – do bees hibernate? Whatever. (I’m too tired to google it tonight.) They love these purple flowers and sure enough, there were a dozen or so flitting about.

If you look close enough I think I caught a couple of them sort of off of the center of the frame, but thery’re there.

Once or twice they would come up on the top and I would try to get the camera (iPhone) close enough to get a good picture. They didn’t like that.

I chose to leave them be. I’m sure they were hungry and cranky. And they have stingers. I know what I would do if I were hungry and cranky and have a stinger and some jerk kept sticking a huge phone in my business. I didn’t want to be a jerk. Or get stung.

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Filed under Flowers, Photography