Tag Archives: Stargazing

Venus and Mercury Spotted!

Venus and Mercury close together after last night’s sunset.

I lucked out in that…

  • I remembered they were going to be visible when I got to the store on the way home.
  • The parking lot was both wide and slightly uphill from the western side of the street, giving me a clear view.
  • The sky had just darkened enough to see both.
  • The clouds were just wispy enough not to block them.

As it is, I still had to crop out a street light and its lens flare to get this photo, or I would have framed it better.

But hey, it’s not often you get to see Mercury from a city at all, never mind right next to another planet!

Venus and Jupiter Conjunction: Three Views

Venus and Jupiter Conjunction June 30, 2015

On June 30, 2015, Venus and Jupiter lined up very closely in the night sky as seen from Earth, just 0.3 degrees apart — closer than the diameter of the full moon!

The day of the conjunction was muggy and cloudy, and I really didn’t expect to see them at all. To my surprise and relief, it cleared up and cooled off after nightfall.

You really don’t notice how much brighter Venus is than Jupiter until they’re right next to each other. Jupiter is much bigger, so it reflects a lot more sunlight, but it’s also a lot farther away.

Also, that conventional wisdom about how stars twinkle, but planets don’t? Not true. In turbulent air, planets absolutely twinkle.

Venus and Jupiter two days after the conjunction

Two nights later on July 2, I walked outside facing west. The sky near the horizon was still orange, but the two brightest planets were clearly visible against the deepening blue.

And just to show you how fast Venus moves across the sky, here’s the view 10 days before the conjunction, on June 20:

The moon, Venus and Jupiter over Mimi's Cafe

I didn’t have a tripod handy that night, so I used the top of the car, which conveniently lined up with Jupiter and the chimney.

Venus and Mars are all right tonight

Venus and Mars

My tripod, on the other hand, seems not to have been as steady as I thought. Or I jostled it a tiny bit, enough to register on Venus but not the much dimmer satellite dish.

Speaking of dimmer, though….wow, nothing like a conjunction to remind you just how much brighter Venus is than, well anything else in the night sky except the moon.