Conjunction Images From Dec. 1, ’08

I was really looking forward to viewing last night’s triple conjunction of the Moon, Venus and Jupiter, but unfortunately we were socked in with clouds at my location. Fortunately, however there were lots of other people out there who had clear skies, as well as some great equipment to capture the event. Amateur astronomer Tavi Greiner took this spectacular image (link to larger image) at about 6:00 pm local time from the coastal region of North Carolina in the US, and even managed to capture two of Jupiter’s moons. Interestingly, she used just a Canon 400 D camera and telephoto zoom (no telecope) with an exposure of 1.3 seconds, (F/5.6 at ISO 400). Tavi has just recently started doing astrophotography, and was thrilled with this image. “That was such luck for me!” she said. ” We’ve had rain for days and days, and last night it cleared up. But now it’s raining again this (Tuesday) morning. So I feel so fortunate.”

Here’s a list of other places to see more images: has a big list of submitted photos, including some great images taken from Europe of the lunar occultation of Venus. Cosmos4U has an even bigger list, the Discovery Blog will be posting images all week, and Phil Plait even tried his hand at astrophotography.

If you’re new to astrophotography or thinking about trying it, you can take heart from Tavi Greiner’s excellent results. She said she has been doing regular astronomy with telescopes and binoculars for quite some time, but got a camera a few months ago.

“I wanted to try astrophotography, but without a telescope,” she said. “I’ve been trying to teach myself, and I’m not very good at it yet, but I wanted to be able to show my children what’s all out there that we’re not seeing with our eyes. So I was really tickled with this particular picture, because it proves my point that we’re looking at this beautiful moon and the planets, and look at what our eyes aren’t seeing, but its right there: these little moons! It’s just thrilling. Just look at the things that can be revealed in just a few seconds.”

Here’s a link to Tavi’s image with out the notations.

15 Replies to “Conjunction Images From Dec. 1, ’08”

  1. Great images! Here’s another:

    This one is from Joe Brimacombe taken at Macedon Ranges Observatory.

    It’s really wonderful how different observers around the world got to see it slightly differently thanks to the joy of celestial mechanics in action and the different time zones. If you have questions that you didn’t get answered, do take a look at the original article where I explained why the Moon appears as it does and why the planets looked to be in different positions for different observers.

    I am so proud of everyone! Even our own Ian O’Neill was out imagining this event! Take a look at this:

    What a great job you all have done!!

  2. I took some photos with my digital camera too!
    You can click my name to see them.

    It was a great sky watching night! I saw some meteors, and a thunderstorm in the horizon!
    You can see the moons of Jupiter and lots of stars in my photos too! 😛

  3. So, I’ve been wondering for a while now…

    When I look up at the moon when it is a crescent, I can see the part that is in shadow just as can be seen in this photo. When I was a kid, years ago, I don’t recall seeing the unlit portion (though I wasn’t very observant as a child either). So my questions are these:
    Has the unlit portion of the moon always been visible to observers during the crescent phase or is this an example of modern light pollution from earth onto the moon?
    Is it the reflection of the sunlit portion of the earth reflected on to the unlit portion of the moon?
    Did observers of the moon from history notice this lit/unlit phenomenon?
    Just curious…

  4. Thump, the light you see from the “visible dark” portion of a crescent Moon is called Earthshine. It has virtually nothing do with the pollution levels on Earth. It is sunlight reflected by the Earth onto the Moon and back to the Earth, again. The first to explain this on record was Leonardo da Vinci. Here’s the story:

    And I got a good twilight view of the conjunction before the clouds came in for a couple of hours. My photo can been seen by clicking on my name, too.

    Wonderful photo, Tavi! I can usually see Big J’s big satellites if I use the digital zoom in my camera, but the end result is not very good.

  5. It was very impressive. My sister, who is not at all a skywatcher, called me out of the blue, “Look outside, look at the sky!”.

    We were lucky here in suburban Maryland, for once. Usually it is bad seeing so close to D.C.

  6. Was this really a Triple Conjunction?
    Doesn’t a triple conjunction occur during opposition when the planets move backward (retrograde motion) and are close to each other 3 times in a short time?
    I think it was only a grouping of 3 celestial bodies.

  7. Great image, Tavi. An explorer on Europa would have seen an interesting conjuction about North American midday Monday, a crescent Callisto passing about one degree north of the Earth/Venus conjunction.

  8. I’ve had about two dozen people ask me about the conjunction of Venus and Jupiter within the las week.

    I got to see the Dec. 1st apparition with the Moon to the upper left of Venus and Jupiter. Extremely lovely.

    The Moon in Earthshine appears to be tilting towards a favorable libration to show Mare Oriental this month. Will that happen?

  9. I was very fortunate in Western Australia to see a stunning “smiley face” staring back at me in the night sky. Sadly i wasnt able to photograph it but friends of mine who rarely look at the heavens sent me messages about so it was nice to see that everyones curiosity about the solar system was peaked at least for one night.

  10. I have seen the conjunction of moon, Venus and Jupiter, when i was out of my office in evening then i look towards the sky. I saw Jupiter and Venus are the just side of the moon. I was seeing it from,Bhubaneswar, Orissa. I am feeling very lucky.

  11. Is it my 20/200 vision or can you make out Europa as a distortion in Jupiter’s light disk? It looks eliptical to me while Venu is almost perfectly circular.

  12. “Is it my 20/200 vision or can you make out Europa as a distortion in Jupiter’s light disk? It looks eliptical to me while Venu[s] is almost perfectly circular.”

    Jamie, yes, I do believe that is Europa there. Zooming in on my original large-format image revealed an additional bright pixel in exactly the location I would expect to see Europe, in that fov. Good catch 🙂


Comments are closed.