A 6% illuminated waning crescent moon and the planet Venus were in a close conjunction low in the southeast just before sunrise last 10 January 2013.
The waning crescent which looks like a thin “smile” on the sky, tilted a bit to the right. The soft glow on the dark side of the moon is called the Earthshine.
I always love taking pictures of a thin crescent moon, especially when it’s also nearby another bright objects like the planet Venus. It just makes my day complete.
A few minutes after sunset last October 18, 2012, two reddish objects were found near the waxing crescent Moon (12% illuminated) in the western sky. These two bright red objects were actually the planet Mars, and the bright star Antares in the constellation Scorpius. Mars was about 2 degrees to the upper left from the Moon, and Antares about 4 degrees to the lower left from Mars.
Mars and Antares are often mistaken for each other because of their similarity in appearance. In fact, the name Antares means “Rival of Mars” in Greek.
All photos were taken using Canon Powershot SX40 HS. Some if the images were blurry. My camera got out of focus and i didn’t notice till it was too late!
Click on the images to see larger versions.
The sky was extra clear that night. Amazed by the beauty of the starry night sky, I took my camera out again and snapped this photo while walking home:
This morning I took the chance to image the close pairing of Mercury and the thin waning crescent Moon.
Mercury an inner or inferior planets like Venus, always appear close to the sun in the sky due to their low elongation (angular separation from the sun as (angular separation from the sun as viewed from earth), hence it’s always interesting to spot this tiny elusive planet near other brighter objects such as the moon.
Neither Mercury or Venus ever appears very far from the sun and consequently never far above the horizon (except Venus at maximum elongation). Both can only appear in the west in the evening and in the east in the morning and only for a short amount of time.
Inferior planet elongation. Image credit: wapi.isu.edu
In the case of Mercury, take note that it will always be located in the sky no more than 28 degrees from the Sun.
After checking Stellarium, I prepared my trusty point-and-shoot camera and tripod and went outside before 4:00 AM. A view of Scorpius in the southwest greeted me as I set up.
The eastern horizon was fortunately clear that time. In just a little while, a thin golden arc of light began to appear above the horizon. I took my 2-inch Galileoscope out and pointed at the moon.
Thin crescent Moon rising at around 4 AM
It didn’t take long before the twilight began to creep out and push the darkness away. The sky turned blue and soon I noticed the earthshine, the ghostly illumination of the lunar dark side.
Mercury should be located only a few degrees away from the moon. I searched the area just below the lower limb of the moon where this planet was suppose to lie and found its faint shine.
It was barely visible in the images fo it lies above the glow of the rising Sun so I used the dodge tool in Photoshop during the post-editing to make it more visible.
After a few minutes of imaging, the light from the two objects were eventually washed out in the solar glow.
I was about to go home when I caught a glimpse of Venus and the thin Moon hanging close together in the western sky at dusk last January 26.
I didn’t have a camera with me then. Fortunately, a friend of mine had his camera and let me use it to take a few images of this stunning sight.
Venus is now shining brilliantly in the west-southwest after sunset at magnitude -4.0. It will be climbing higher in our sky over the next three months as it comes closer to us in its orbit. Over that time the planet will brighten but its phase will shrink as the Sun shifts to the other side of Venus from us.
By February 2012, Venus will climb up higher into the evening sky and will stay out even longer after dark. It’ll be at its highest above the sunset in March 2012, when Jupiter and Venus will stage an amazing conjunction in the western twilight sky. These two bright planets will lie about three degrees apart in the West in the constellation Aries. Venus will beam at magnitude -4.3, and Jupiter is a worthy companion at magnitude -2.1. The pairing will make for a lovely photo op.
On March 25, Venus, Jupiter and the thin crescent Moon will form a straight line in the western sky.
Last October 28, 2011 I immediately headed to the SM Mall of Asia after our 2-day sem planning in Makati to take an image of this nice celestial grouping shortly after sunset. Sleeplessness failed to hinder me
It features the thin Young Moon and the two inner planets, Venus and Mercury hanging near each other in the western sky at dusk.
I was really fortunate to have been able to catch this sky display just before darkness came. *Traffic in the city really sucks.*
Anyway, I hope the skies will always be this clear.
To the stars!
I and my friend Bea Banzuela were walking around the Academic Oval of our university last May 5 when we noticed the sunset behind the trees at the lawn.
The transition of the bluish sky into crimson during this time of the day is always lovely to look at.
I remembered that the 2-day old thin Moon will set just before the Sun that afternoon. I checked Stellarium for its location in the western sky and waited until it became visible.
We soon found it hanging below a contrail a few minutes after the Sun had disappeared from view. It was around 5% illuminated and barely visible to the naked eye.
As the sky grew darker, the Moon become more apparent, along with the bright stars located around it.
We were grateful that we had along with us a nice point-and-shoot Panasonic Lumix DMC camera which works great when used for landscape photography. Using its starry sky mode, we were able to produce the images above even with minimal light. This setting allows for 15, 30 and 60 second exposures that is best for night sky photography. Other cameras often produce very dark images unless there is some amount of light out. (Thanks to Aaron Misayah for lending us his camera.)
I hope the sky would always be this clear.
A few minutes after sunset tonight, find the thin waxing crescent Moon near Jupiter in the western sky. Degree of separation is ~8 degrees.
For Philippine skywatchers, Jupiter can be found hanging about 13 degrees above the horizon at 6:40 PM just as shown in the picture. Jupiter is right at the end of this memorable apparition so spot it while you can. It will be lost to the twilight by the third week of the month and in solar conjunction in early April.
Also, if the sky condition tonight is good we may also have the chance to see the earthshine – a smoky glow on the dark portion of the crescent Moon. It is caused by sunlight that reflects off the Earth onto the Moon’s night side and occurs when the Moon is a thin crescent.
image created using Stellarium