Are you ready for the Great Conjunction?

I’m posting early this week to give you a little advanced notice on an upcoming astronomical event.

A Great Conjunction is when the planets Jupiter and Saturn appear closest together in the night sky. The one happening next Monday (21 December) is the closest they’ve been since 1623. Here’s a Wikipedia article with more info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_conjunction

Kevin M ( www.flickr.com/photos/44542650@N08/) motivated me to go out and practice for it this evening. My first attempt is below.

Io, Jupiter, Europa, Ganymede, Callisto, Titan, and Saturn (bottom to top)Io, Jupiter, Europa, Ganymede, Callisto, Titan, and Saturn (bottom to top)

These planets are much brighter than their moons, so to get an image with a little detail in the planets and still show the moons requires stacking multiple frames. This one is a total of 5 frames – 4 for the planets (exposed at ISO 800, f/9, 1/250); and 1 frame for the moons (ISO 800, f/9, 1/40). It’s been heavily cropped and then digitally zoomed with ML Super Res in Pixelmator Pro.

Here’s a diagram from the SkySafari program identifying the objects and their positions for tonight.

 And this is the diagram updated for Monday night:

These are at the same scale, so you can see how much closer they’ll be on the 21st.

I’m hoping the weather will be clear. If so, I plan to at least make another image using tonight’s approach. But I’m also thinking about digging out my telescope. I haven’t used it in a long time. If I can get it running and aligned I should be able to make a little better photo. I guess I’ll see…

Are you going to try and photograph this? If so, I’d really like to see your images.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.Take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can – capture a conjunction!

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved


12/22/20 edit:

Clouds last night were challenging.  This was the scene at sunset:

And this is how it looked once it was dark enough to see the conjunction:

I went ahead and made some frames and this is the best of the bunch (same approach as above except I didn’t use ML Super Res in Pixelmator Pro this time).  Click on this one to view a larger version on Flickr.

Great Conjuction, 12-21-2020Great Conjuction, 12-21-2020. Left to right: Callisto, Io, Ganymede, Jupiter, Europa, Saturn

I did get the telescope out and tested. It seems to work fine but given the seeing conditions, I didn’t take time to set up and use it. I think I’ll save that for a future project when those two planets are higher in the sky (although not in conjunction!).

4 thoughts on “Are you ready for the Great Conjunction?

  1. Such wonderful information. I will start trying to shoot tomorrow. I have been using an app called Stargazers which has been helpful for location the planets in the sky. Thank you for your information. i will be shooting from TN but hope to get an image or two. This is very exciting to me!

    1. Good luck, Dorothy – This is a fun photo op!

      Let me know if you have any questions about the setup or processing. I’d be happy to try and answer.

      Ed

  2. I’ll be joining a few hundred of my closest mosquito friends for an attempt. Looks like our weather may be dicey as a good amount of cloud cover is forecast.

    Very nice photograph, Ed!

    Thank you for all the useful information.

    1. Hope you have good luck on your attempt, Wally. It does look like the cloud cover will be challenging.

      I’m glad I went out the other night and I like that photo too. But I did get out my old telescope and am still hoping to put some more powerful optics on the conjunction tonight or maybe tomorrow.

      Ed

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