Tag Archives: planets

Venus and Jupiter Rising

It was early on 20 Jan 2018. There they were, nicely paired behind the trees. Venus is the brightest. I set the iPad on the mantel for a long exposure (~20 min) to document their rise. Some stars joined them.


Three Planets and Regulus

Our view from Iowa this morning toward the pre-dawn sky was clear. High in the dark sky was Venus. Planets Mercury and Mars were supposed to be about halfway down toward the horizon. I have looked for them the past few mornings with no success. Either I was late to look and the sky was too bright, or some clouds were in the way. This morning I looked earlier at 5:55am and the sky was very transparent. Success!

Reg is the star Regulus in the constellation Leo. It photo-bombed the scene next to Mercury.

ISO100 @5sec | Click for bigger

ISO100 @2sec | Zoomed in | Exposure adjusted for detail

The view this morning actually included four planets if you count the Earth beneath my feet.

Lord of the Rings – ♄

The planets Earth and Saturn are currently aligned in the same general direction from the Sun. April 28th was the date of the most direct alignment called opposition. Saturn was in the opposite direction of the Sun as viewed from Earth. Saturn rises in the east each evening at about the same time the Sun sets. By late evening it is positioned high and is a pleasing sight in a telescope.

I am fortunate to have an account with the University of Iowa’s Robotic Telescope called Rigel. It is located at the Winer Observatory near Sonoita in southern AZ. The children of the Rigel director were in my physics classes years ago. He kindly gives me the account for my use. On the night of May 4, the Rigel telescope obtained this image for me of the planet Saturn.

How cool is that? I got to use a telescope over a thousand miles away to get this image. What if I could use a spacecraft actually orbiting Saturn to see images up close and in great detail? I would want to see some of the fine structure details of the rings. Galileo called the rings ‘ears’ when he first saw them in 1610.

Let’s go see them.