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On July 4th, I got up at 5 AM to see Venus and Jupiter and the star Aldebaran in conjunction in the eastern sky. I was rewarded with this view. Jupiter is at the top. Venus is the brightest. Aldebaran is faint and below Venus, a little left. The sky was already beginning to brighten as sunrise was 5:40. Over the course of the next few days, Venus and Jupiter would slightly move and change the positions of the objects.

Astronomy Picture of the Day had a beautiful image taken from the Atacama desert in western South America. Take a look. You should notice the orientation is different. That's because the curvature of the Earth gave the photographer a rotated platform for their camera compared to mine about 1/4 of the way around the globe.

In addition to the movements of Venus and Jupiter in orbit around the Sun, our Moon was coming into the picture. Each day, the waning Moon moved a little farther east toward the Sun. In the early morning hours of Sunday July 15, the Moon was to be a part of this conjunction. I set my alarm for 4:20 AM so I would be up before the brightening sky of dawn. Since I live in the midwest, clouds are often an issue. They have spoiled my plans to observe something special on many occasions. But, not this time.

I set the camera on a tripod. The ISO was 160. The f stop was 2.8. White balance was for tungsten filament. And, the shutter speed was 1/4 second. I framed and set the auto-timer shutter so it would release with no shake from me.


Jupiter at the top. Venus at the bottom. Aldebaran to the right.

I was happy with the image. The monthly cycle of the Moon, and longer cycles of the planets around the Sun, periodically bring some beautiful groupings together. With patience and luck, I get to see them and record them to view again.


Originally posted to Backyard Science on Sun Jul 15, 2012 at 08:45 AM PDT.

Also republished by Astro Kos, Jim & Melanie in IA, and J Town.

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