“No matter how much you plan and prepare,” said photographer Greg Gibbs, “sometimes you just have to be very lucky.”
As we mentioned last week, Jupiter and the Moon were going to have a close encounter in the sky on February 18, with an occultation visible in some areas. And so Gibbs was preparing to get shots of the occultation through his telescope from his location in Victoria, Australia, and was using an automated timer to get shots at about 10 second intervals But then he noticed lights from a plane coming close to the Moon.
“I realised that there was a chance that it would pass in front of the Moon,” he said, “so I quickly canceled the remote timer I was using to take the shots and instead started shooting high speed continuous frames. I managed to get this plane crossing the moon in five individual frames just as Jupiter was about to be occulted by The Moon.”
This final product, as Gibbs notes on his Facebook page, is a two image composite. The Moon, Jupiter and the plane are all one single image. Then he took an overexposed image to bring up the Galilean Moons of (from left to right) Io, Callisto and Europa. At the time of this shot, Ganymede had already been occulted by The Moon.
There’s the old saying, “If you can’t be good, be lucky…”
This shot may have been lucky, but it sure is good, too!
See more of Gibbs astrophotography at his website, Capturing the Night.
Additionally, Peter Lake from Australia put together this video from last night’s occultation:
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