Copyright © 2013, Dick Locke. All Rights Reserved. Contact and Image Use Information
This page has images of the close encounter between Mercury, Saturn, and the Moon from November & December 2013.
The crescent Moon and earthshine are easy to see, while Saturn is the bright object above in the clouds. Mercury is a bit harder to see; it's showing through a small slit below and left, right above the treetops.
Story & details: I wasn't happy to see clouds after getting up at 5:20 a.m. on Sunday 12/1 to shoot this conjunction. I checked the weather, which noted conditions in my area were "overcast." It did look like things might be somewhat clear to the east and I decided to give it a try. I was able to focus on a star peeking through the clouds. I shot a few manual exposures, then set the camera to shoot frames every 10 seconds while monitoring and tweaking the exposure. I went for about 45 minutes. Despite all the clouds, I was able to get 8 frames with all three objects showing (out of over 200 shots). Image above used the Nikon D7000 and VR 18-200 lens at f4.8 and 50mm, 5s at ISO 800 at 6:10 a.m. 21-Nu Librae is just above the Moon while Zubenesch (27-Beta Librae) is over to the left. The waning Moon is 3.2% illuminated, while Saturn is mag 0.57 and Mercury is mag -0.66. Scroll down to see more.
Mercury is a little tricky here, it's just to the left of a tree in the bright red area below left. This one was shot at 6:05 a.m., same equipment as previous shot but was 4s at ISO 1600 and f5. Mercury is about 2.5 degrees up.
Mercury is on the lower left, above the treetops at magnitude -0.66 and 5 degrees above the horizon. Saturn is the brighter object above and right at mag 0.57, with Alpha Librae at mag 2.75 immediately above & right. The waning crescent Moon is 8.5% illuminated at 6:14 a.m. The Moon and Mercury are 17 degrees apart. You can see a smattering of other stars, mag 5 and brighter.
Photo Details: Nikon D7000 camera, Nikon VR 18-200 lens at 50mm, 2s at f4.8 (matrix metered) and ISO 400.
A two planet conjunction is somewhat interesting, but getting this shot let me confirm the direction and horizon for the Moon & planets shot Nov 30th. Above was at 6:15 a.m. 11/27/13. We live in an area with new construction going on, and they just put in a new street with no houses on it yet and no trees So, temporarily, I have a pretty good horizon... Looks like I can get down to 2 degrees or so above the horizon ESE if I play the trees perfectly.
Here's a wide angle shot of my shooting location for the above pics.
Pictures of Venus and the Moon setting over the Neal Pond. Click here, or on pix, to see bigger images:
Above: The Moon & Venus reflecting off the pond next to the observing field. 8/02
(Nikon 55mm f2.8 macro lens, Kodak E200 slide film, ~8 sec exposure)
Copyright © Dick Locke. All Rights Reserved.
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