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Young Moon at Barnegat
May 21, 2023

Here's the young crescent Moon (about 2.4 days old) on May 21, 2023, at 9:30 pm EDT, as seen through a veil of smoke that had wafted over New Jersey from forest fires in Canada. As a result, the earthshine was muted, and later on, the stars were dull and no Milky Way was visible in the Summer Triangle.

Taken from the WAS's Barnegat Rd Observing Site in the NJ Pines with a Canon EOS RP DSLM and a Tamron 150 to 600 mm f/5.0-6.3 zoom lens (on a fixed tripod) set to 600 mm focal length. It's a single raw frame exposed 1.3 seconds at f/6.3, ISO 12,800. The raw image was lightly adjusted and cropped to about 60% of the original dimensions (to a 4:3 ratio) for a field 2.0 wide x 1.5 high, then converted to a JPEG in Canon's Digital Photo Professional 4.

At the time, the Moon was at 10.7 altitude, 297 azimuth. The star directly above the Moon is 136 Tau, mag 4.6, B-V = 0, and the star to it's right, and down slightly, is HD 39004, mag 5.6, B-V = 1.0 (so it has a ruddy tinge). The triangle of stars immediately right of the Moon are nominally 7th magnitude.

 

 

Rising Moon near Horizon
May 9, 2023

Here's the 85% illuminated gibbous Moon on May 9, 2023, at 12:08 am EDT, about 3 days after Full Moon on May 5 at 1:34 pm EDT, through clouds 17 minutes after rising at 11:51 pm on May 8 when it was just 2.0 altitude (including atmospheric refraction), hence the orange coloration. Taken from Marter Ave in Mt Laurel, NJ, with a Canon EOS RP DSLM and a Tamron 150 to 600 mm f/5.0-6.3 zoom lens (on a fixed tripod) set to 600 mm focal length. It's a single raw frame exposed 1/30 second at f/8.0 (spot metered, auto minus 1 stop in camera), ISO 6400, daylight white balance. The raw image was not subsequently adjusted, except for cropping to 58% of the original dimensions for a field 2.0 wide x 1.3 high, then converted to a JPEG in Canon's Digital Photo Professional 4.

 

Here's the initial view of the Moon on May 8, 2023, at 11:56 pm EDT, through clouds 5 minutes after rising at 11:51 pm when it was just 0.6 altitude (including atmospheric refraction) with orange coloration despite auto white balance. Taken from Marter Ave in Mt Laurel, NJ, with a Canon EOS RP DSLM and a Tamron 150 to 600 mm f/5.0-6.3 zoom lens (on a fixed tripod) set to 600 mm focal length. It's a single raw frame exposed 8 seconds at f/8.0 (spot metered, auto), ISO 6400, which is 7.9 additional stops of exposure (240x) vs. the previous image. The raw image was slightly adjusted (brightness reduced by half a stop) and cropped to 58% of the original dimensions for a field 2.0 wide x 1.3 high, then converted to a JPEG in Canon's Digital Photo Professional 4.

 

 

Rainbow, Segment of Arc
May 5, 2023

 On the way to the WAS meeting on May 5, 2023, I was driving down Westfield Rd in Moorestown, NJ, when a short rainbow on my left (nominally towards the southeast), so I pulled into the Swede Run parking lot and took a few snapshots with my iPhone 11. The picture above was taken at 7:29 pm EDT and the one below at 7:30 pm (sunset would be at 7:58 pm). Both were taken at 26 mm equivalent focal length (4.25 mm actual), f/1.8, ISO 32 and exposed 1/500 second. They were mildly adjusted and cropped with the photo editor of my iPad. There is an obvious short rainbow segment just above the trees at the horizontal midpoint of each, and on the upper photo, there's also a very vague segment of a double rainbow in the whitish cloud roughly midway between center and the left edge of the frame. The double bow was better seen seen with with unaided eyes, but didn't last that long. About 10 minutes later in the parking lot on the way into the meeting, the bright rainbow segment colors were quite intense, including violet.

 

 

 

Venus and the Crescent Moon
April 23, 2023

The inner planet Venus and the Crescent Moon were close together on April 23, 2023, when this snapshot of them was captured at at 9:18 pm EDT from Bishops Gate in Mt Laurel, NJ, with a Canon EOS RP DSLM camera and a Canon 24-105 mm f/4.0L zoom lens, set to 35 mm focal length, on a fixed tripod. It's a single raw frame exposed 1/13 second at f/4.0, ISO 12,800. The raw image was mildly adjusted, cropped to 99% x 845 of the original dimensions (16:9 ratio) for a field 35 wide x 20 high, then converted to a JPEG in Canon's Digital Photo Professional 4. Mouseover for labels. At the time, Venus (69% illuminated) and the Moon (16% illuminated) were about 5.2 apart.

 

Here's a closer view of the planet Venus, the Crescent Moon and the star Elnath (Beta Tauri) on April 23, 2023, at 8:43 pm EDT. Taken with a Canon EOS RP DSLM and a Tamron 150 to 600 mm f/5.0-6.3 zoom lens (on a fixed tripod) set to 150 mm focal length. It's a single raw frame exposed 1/6 second at f/1.4, ISO 12,800. The raw image was mildly adjusted, cropped to 87% of the original dimensions for a field 7.9 wide x 11.8 high, and converted to a JPEG in Canon's Digital Photo Professional 4, then mildly adjusted with Adobe Photoshop Elements. Mouseover for labels. Since it was taken about half-an-hour before the picture above, Venus and the Moon are about a quarter-degree closer together.

 

Finally, here's an even closer view of the Crescent Moon, with earthshine, on April 23, 2023, at 8:46 pm EDT. Taken with a Canon EOS RP DSLM and a Tamron 150 to 600 mm f/5.0-6.3 zoom lens (on a fixed tripod) set to 600 mm focal length. It's a single raw frame exposed 1/8 second at f/6.3, ISO 12,800. The raw image was mildly adjusted, cropped to 45% x 50% of the original dimensions (a 4:3 ratio) for a field 1.5 wide x 1.2 high, then converted to a JPEG in Canon's Digital Photo Professional 4. To show the earthshine, the sun-illuminated crescent is greatly overexposed.

 

 

Venus and Mercury
April 9, 2023

On April 9, 2023, the brilliant planet Venus was 3.1 from the Pleiades star cluster (M45) in the constellation Taurus. For southern New Jersey, a minimum spacing of 2.6 will occur on the evenings of April 10 & 11 (however, Venus is within the Pleiades at eight-year intervals, most recently in 2020). The planet Mercury is also visible now after sunset, one of its best elongations of 2023.  In between is the dim planet Uranus. All three are present in this image captured at at 8:37 pm EDT from Wharton State Forest, NJ, with a Canon EOS RP DSLM camera and a Sigma 50 mm, f/1.4 Art lens (on a fixed tripod). It's a single raw frame exposed 1/13 second at f/1.4, ISO 12,800 and daylight white balance. The raw image was mildly adjusted, cropped to 90% of the original dimensions for a field 24 wide x 36 high, then converted to a JPEG in Canon's Digital Photo Professional 4. Mouseover for labels.

 

Same as above image, but cropped and processed to enhance Uranus and the stars around it. It is 38% of the original frame for a field 10.5 wide x 15.7 high. Mouseover for labels.

 

Here's a closer view of Venus and the Pleiades on April 9, 2023. This image was captured at at 8:47 pm EDT from Wharton State Forest, NJ, with a Canon EOS RP DSLM camera and a Canon 200 mm, f/2.8L lens (on a fixed tripod). It's a single raw frame exposed 1.6 seconds at f/4.0, ISO 12,800 and daylight white balance. The raw image was mildly adjusted, cropped to 72% x 81% of the original dimensions (to a 4:3 ratio) for a field 7.4 wide x 5.6 high, then converted to a JPEG in Canon's Digital Photo Professional 4. Mouseover for labels.

Note: The eight spikes radiating from brilliant and unavoidably overexposed Venus are the result of diffraction from the eight diaphragm blades in the 200 mm f/2.8L lens.

 

 

Venus and Uranus
March 30, 2023

On March 30, 2023, the brilliant nearby planet Venus passed (apparently) by the distant and dim planet Uranus in the evening sky before they set around 10:30 pm EDT. They would reach conjunction in geocentric right ascension about 5 hr later on March 31 at 2 am. This snapshot of the pair was captured at at 8:40 pm from Mt Laurel, NJ, with a Canon EOS RP DSLM camera and a Canon 200 mm, f/2.8L lens (on a fixed tripod). It's a single raw frame exposed 2 seconds at f/4, ISO 1600 and daylight white balance. The raw image was mildly adjusted, cropped to 58% of the original dimensions for a field 5.9 wide x 4.0 high, then converted to a JPEG in Canon's Digital Photo Professional 4. Mouseover for labels.

At the time, the two planets were 1.2 apart. Venus blazed at magnitude -4.0 while Uranus was a binocular object at magnitude +5.8 in the suburban sky with a 68% illuminated Moon overhead. That's a difference of 9.8 magnitudes, or 8,300x the brightness. The mouseover triangle marks an impromptu asterism I've been using in recent days to pinpoint Uranus. Again, the spikes radiating from Venus are due to diffraction.

 

 

Jupiter and Mercury
March 26, 2023

Jupiter and Mercury were close together on March 26, 2023, when this snapshot of the pair was captured at at 7:47 pm EDT from Mt Laurel, NJ, with a Canon EOS RP DSLM camera and a 200 mm, f/2.8L lens (on a fixed tripod). It's a single raw frame exposed 1/200 second at f/2.8, ISO 1600 and daylight white balance. The raw image was mildly adjusted, cropped to 67% of the original dimensions for a field 6.9 wide x 4.6 high, then converted to a JPEG in Canon's Digital Photo Professional 4. Mouseover for labels.

At the time, the two planets were about 2.5 apart. Magnitude -2.1 Jupiter was at 5.0 altitude, magnitude -1.4 Mercury 3.2 altitude and both both were nominally due west at 275 azimuth. Jupiter is now sinking towards the sun at sunset and solar conjunction is on April 11. Mercury is moving eastward after superior conjunction on March 17 and will reach greatest eastern elongation on April 11. Of course, all three bodies are actually moving eastward with respect to the celestial sphere. Venus more quickly the sun, so its solar elongation is increasing, while Jupiter is moving more slowly than the sun, so its solar elongation is decreasing.

 

 

The Crescent Moon and Jupiter
March 22, 2023

The thin Crescent Moon, about 31 hours old and 2.0% illuminated, was close to the planet Jupiter on March 22, 2023. This snapshot of the pair was captured at at 7:56 pm EDT from Mt Laurel, NJ, with a Canon EOS RP DSLM camera and a Tamron 150 to 600 mm, f/5.0 to f/6.3 zoom lens (on a fixed tripod) set to 150 mm focal length. It's a single raw frame exposed 1/40 second at f/5.0, ISO 12,800 and daylight balance. The raw image was slightly adjusted, cropped vertically to a 16:9 ratio for a field about 13.6 wide x 7.7 high, then converted to a JPEG in Canon's Digital Photo Professional 4. Final touch-up and re-sizing done with Adobe Photoshop Elements.

At the time, the two objects were about 1.32 apart center-to center (1.04 limb-to-limb) with Jupiter below-right of the Moon. The Moon was about 6.3 altitude and Jupiter 5.3 altitude, both nominally 273 azimuth, essentially due west. 2.0% of the Moon (the crescent) is directly illuminated by the Sun, the remainder of the disc is ashen-gray from Earthshine, sunlight reflected by the nearly-full Earth as it would appear to an observer on the Moon.

 

Here's the pair at 8:09 pm EDT on March 22, 2023, taken with the same camera and lens, but set to 329 mm focal length. It's a single raw frame exposed 1/8 second at f/5.6, ISO 12,800 and daylight white balance. The raw image was slightly adjusted, cropped vertically to a 16:9 ratio for a field about 6.3 wide x 3.5 high, then converted to a JPEG in Canon's Digital Photo Professional 4.

At the time, the two objects were about 1.43 apart center-to center (1.16 limb-to-limb). The Moon was about 4.0 altitude and Jupiter was at 2.9 altitude, both nominally 275 azimuth, essentially due west. The faint star in the upper-right corner of the frame is magnitude 4.3 Epsilon Piscium.

 

 

Venus and Jupiter
March 5, 2023

The two brightest planets, Venus and Jupiter, were captured in this snapshot taken on March 5, 2023, at 7:10 pm EST from Mt Laurel, NJ, with a Canon EOS RP DSLM camera (on a fixed tripod) and a Canon 24 to 120 mm f/4.0L zoom lens set to 47 mm focal length. It's a single raw frame exposed 0.6 seconds at f/5.6, ISO 1600 and auto white balance. The raw image was slightly adjusted, cropped to 77% of the original linear dimensions for a field about 33 wide x 22 high, then converted to a JPEG in Canon's Digital Photo Professional 4. Mouseover for labels.

At the time, the two planets were about 3.8 apart, following their appulse just half a degree apart on March 1, 2023, which for several reasons including poor weather, I was not able to observe. Also at the time, Venus was at 15.3 altitude and Jupiter was at 11.4 altitude, both nominally 265 azimuth, just shy of due west at 270 azimuth.

 

Here's an earlier shot of Venus and Jupiter, captured on March 5, 2023, at 6:44 pm EST from the same Mt Laurel, NJ, location. Taken with the same Canon EOS RP DSLM camera (on a fixed tripod), but using a Sigma 50 mm f/1.4 Art lens. It's a single raw frame exposed 0.3 seconds at f/2.8, ISO 1600 and daylight white balance. The raw image was slightly adjusted, cropped to 67% of the original linear dimensions for a field about 18 wide x 27 high, then converted to a JPEG in Canon's Digital Photo Professional 4. Mouseover for labels.

The separation was essentially the same, but Venus was at 20.3 altitude and Jupiter was at 16.5 altitude, both nominally 261 azimuth.

 

 

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Last Update: Sunday, July 02, 2023 at 06:15 PM Eastern Time