On Sunday evening, September 8th, the crescent Moon and Venus made for an eye-catching pair.
The Moon and Venus set over downtown Victoria, British Columbia. Courtesy Gary Seronik
The duo were at their closest just after noon (PDT), when Venus was easy to pick out in binoculars just above the lunar crescent. Venus is the brightest object in the sky after the Sun and Moon, and some keen-eyed observers can see it without optical aid in daylight, but most skywatchers have to wait until just before the Sun goes down before they can sight it. In either case, it helps to have the Moon nearby as a guide.
The Moon and Venus in daylight, shortly after their closest approach.
Courtesy Gary Seronik
As neat as daylight viewing is, seeing these two celestial objects close to one another in twilight is much more spectacular. Even the most casual skywatchers can’t help but notice the bright glint of Venus next to the Moon. As these pictures illustrate, it was a lovely show.
The pairing also gives us a lesson in celestial perspective. Consider that Venus is just a little smaller than the Earth (12,104 km diameter versus 12,756 kilometres), and 3½ times bigger than the Moon. And yet, it was just a tiny dot next to the lunar crescent. That’s because at the time of their close encounter, Venus was nearly 160 million kilometres from Earth, while the Moon was a mere 378 thousand kilometres distant. Little wonder Venus was just a little speck of light — it was more than 400× farther away than the Moon.
The two meet up regularly and will do so again next month, though they won’t be nearly as close together as this time.
SkyNews associate editor Alan Dyer captured this image from the field across the road from his front yard near Gleichen, Alberta. Says Alan, “It was nip and tuck to see them in clear breaks in the scattered cloud. Capturing conjunctions like these when they are so low is always a challenge. You can be sure some cloud will cover one object just as another object is emerging into clear sky. As it was, I did have a couple of minutes of clear shots of the pair, very low in the southwest. “
SkyNews editor Terence Dickinson managed to get this striking shot. “Beautiful day here, just a few clouds,” he reports. ” I grabbed a shot from the yard with DSLR and 200mm lens. Very pretty.”
Reader Ian Steer provides a Toronto perspective on the conjunction. Note the CN Tower jutting into the frame at lower left, and a passernger plane passing in front of the crescent Moon.
One of my favourite conjunction shots so far is this atmospheric photo with Georgian Bay in the foreground, by Steve Irvine of Georgian Bluffs, Ontario. Steve used a tripod mounted Canon 6D camera equipped with a 105mm lens at f/4 for this 1.3 second exposure at ISO 200.
Malcolm Park viewed the conjunction from Wellington, Ontario, where he took this photo with his Nikon D800 and 80mm f/2.8 lens. “I was just about to take everything down because of the clouds when a flock of geese flew into the frame,” he says. “I was able to squeeze off a few shots and this was the best one.”
Bill McMullen captured this view of the Moon and Venus (and their reflection) from Petrie Island, Ottawa, Ontario. Bill used a tripod-mounted Canon 7D camera equipped with a Sigma 17-70mm lens (set to 70mm, f/11) for this 4-second exposure at ISO 100.
This conjunction post-script taken the following night (September 9th) comes from Port Moody, BC’s, Laurentiu Cojocaru. As Laurentiu reports, “In foreground are Vancouver’s lights, in middle you can see the Strait of Georgia, and farther away the silhouettes of the Valdes and Gabriola Islands.” The picture was taken from Burnaby Mountain with a Canon EOS Digital Rebel camera and 55mm lens set to f/4. The exposure was 1/3 second at ISO 400.
Michael Blennerhassett photographed the conjunction from his home in Yarker, Ontario. “I was struck by the brightness of the planet Venus against the deepening blue of early nightfall as a few wispy clouds developed. I hurried to catch this shot, and I was pleased to find the earthshine could just illuminate the dark face of the Moon,” he says. Michael used a Nikon D5100 camera and Sigma 600mm telephoto lens for this portrait.
If you captured any images of this event, please send a copy our way (firstname.lastname@example.org) so that we can share your efforts with our readers!