We witnessed two momentous events over the weekend, each from many miles away.
We watched a livestream of the wedding of my nephew and his lovely new wife.
And we witnessed the rare conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the night sky. These 2 largest planets have not been this close since 1623, during Galileo’s lifetime. And they won’t be closer during my lifetime. To the naked eye, they appear to be a single point of light. We looked at the two planets through binoculars in the backyard. We also watched a livestream from the McDonald Observatory in west Texas, through their large telescopes. One could see the rings of Saturn, and several of Jupiter’s moons.
I toted my camera and tripod to an overlook above Lake Travis last night to try to get a better photo of the Comet NEOWISE. Again, I was not able to spy it by eye or binoculars, but I did get some more underwhelming long exposure shots of it. It is getting very dim. I took exposures ranging from 10 seconds to about 1 minute. Still no stunning captures. No matter, I stayed out there for over 2 hours, enjoying the views.
This is a view about 30 minutes after sunset, with Sometimes Island in the foreground. The lake level is 668′. Windy Point juts in from the right; the Austin Yacht Club on the left shore beyond that; and you can even see Starnes Island way back there, if you look closely.
My second attempt at capturing NEOWISE. Sadly, these are the best shots of the night.
A 10-second exposure, about an hour after sunset; very faint:
A 25-second exposure about an hour and 45 minutes after sunset:
And just because… a 10-second exposure of the big dipper, on the left, pointing towards the North Star on the right side of the shot:
I have been waiting for an opportunity to see the Comet NEOWISE since I heard about it at the beginning of July. When it was visible over the pre-dawn, northeast horizon last week, the sky Austin was overcast. This week it is supposed to be visible after sunset.
Last night the sky was clear, so I grabbed my binoculars and camera and headed out to try to find a vantage point looking to the northwest horizon. I found a parking garage that I thought might provide a view. Since it was in the midst of Austin’s bright city lights, “visible” wouldn’t mean visible to the naked eye. I was not able to sight it in my binoculars, either. Instead, I took a number of shots using long exposure pointing at different areas of the sky in the general direction of where NEOWISE was supposed to be. I did capture it in several photos. Here’s the best one:
It’s definitely not NatGeo material, but I was excited to get it. If conditions allow, I may try again. If so, I’m hoping that my experience from last night will help me get a better picture.
You might want to go into a dark room to see this image. I follow an online sky-watching site called Sky & Telescope. Each week it points out notable things in the night sky to watch out for. This week there is a pretty cool lining up of Mercury, Venus, Mars and Saturn, alongside the crescent moon.
So, I went out tonight on a mission to try to capture a picture of this glorious event. I had limited success. Mercury was not visible. I was able to see the others. Here is the best image I have. Not great, but kind of cool if you think about what you’re seeing. If you look diagonally from top left down to bottom right you can see: Saturn, then Mars, then Venus (brightest star to the right of the crescent moon) then below Venus to the right is Regulus.
Pretty cool, eh?!
If you look on the right side between Saturn and Mars, you’ll see the star Denebola, which is part of the constellation Leo.
This is the diagram from Sky & Telescope, if it helps.
I’m starting to look at fancy-dancy cameras now. Not sure if that was the point of this picture-a-day project, but we’ll see what develops. get it? develops? heh heh 😉