Jupiter Mars Conjunction January 6-7, 2018

Moon, Mars and Venus Setting over Mount Whitney

A past conjunction: the moon, Mars and Venus setting over Mount Whitney

The planets in our solar system orbit the sun in a plane, the “ecliptic plane”.  Seen from the side within that plane from here on earth, they appear to travel in a line in the sky.  As the planets travel in different orbits at different speeds, they sometimes seem to pass one another along that imaginary ecliptic line in the sky, as seen from here on earth. From the United States, the pass will occur between the mornings of January 6 and 7, 2018. Mars and Jupiter will pass within 1/4 degree, 1/2 moon width, of each other.

For the image above from the moon, Mars, Venus conjunction on February 20, 2015, I identified several locations to the conjunction as the moon and planets set over Mount Whitney, near Lone Pine, California. This time the planets will be about 3 times closer to each other.

Here are some actual photos of Jupiter and Mars approaching each other in the sky on recent nights:

Jupiter Mars Conjunction January 7

Jupiter and Mars on December 30, approaching conjunction January 6/7 2017

Approaching Jupiter Mars Conjunction

Jupiter and Mars January 2, rising before dawn

Astrophotographer Jeff Sullivan

On January 5 Jupiter and Mars continue their approach towards conjunction January 6

Here’s a time-lapse of the planets rising on the morning of January 2:

The images and sample time-lapse were captured at a modest 200 mm focal length, the event will be more interesting when they are close enough to shoot at 300-400mm or more, their movement towards each other becomes even more obvious, and while the moons of Jupiter become even more apparent. The two planets will rise over the eastern horizon around 2:45 am on a zero degree horizon here in the Pacific time zone (at a compass angle of 112 degrees, a bit south of east), but I’ve been watching them past 6 am on recent mornings, so you can catch them from when they rise well into twilight. With my actual horizon being more than zero degrees, the planets will appear to rise closer to 3 am for me.

Here’s my result showing the progress of the planets, footage from the mornings of January 2, 3, 5, and 7:

Aside from the planets close together, what else might have been shot? With a long enough exposure and an interesting horizon, a time-lapse video of the planets rising could be interesting, somewhat like this prior shoot of a planetary conjunction setting:

Moon – Mars – Venus Conjunction Setting Over Mount Whitney from Jeff Sullivan on Vimeo.

I chose not to travel to an interesting landscape for this event due to a stormy weather forecast for much of the week here in the Eastern Sierra, including rain on January 6.

Venus Jupiter Moon Conjunction

Venus Jupiter Moon Conjunction, August 23, 2014

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Geminid Meteor Shower 2017

Geminid Meteor Shower, Nikon D750

Geminid meteor shower at 14mm, with some foreground. Nikon D750 / 14 mm.

The Geminid meteor shower is generally acknowledged to be the most active meteor shower of the year with rates of about 120 meteors per hour. It was discovered in the 1800s, and rates seem to be increasing, with some attributing it with up to 180 meteors per hour! While the Geminids aren’t known for producing a lot of bright fireball meteors, the Chi Orionids are, and the radiant point isn’t all that far from the Geminids, so you still have decent odds of catching fireballs, even if they aren’t from the “correct” comet debris stream and apparent radiant point in the sky.

This composite brings the meteors from roughly 3 hours into one image:

Peak Night, Geminid Meteor Shower

3 hours of the Geminid meteor shower further back at 14mm, emphasizing the sky. Canon EOS 6D / 14 mm.

Geminids 2017, Night Before Peak

Night before peak, Geminid meteor shower 2017. Canon EOS 6D / 14 mm.


Moon rise the night before the peak of the Geminid meteor shower,a few nights ago, along with a quick collection of some of the meteors I caught on that night:

It was 8 degrees F when I arrived just after dark to shoot the meteor shower on this night. I don’t even want to know what temperature it was when i picked up the camera later in the night!

Fireball During the Geminid Meteor Shower

Geminid meteors and a bright fireball, likely a Chi Orionid meteor.

As NASA notes about the Geminids:
“The Geminids are a meteor shower that occurs in December every year. The best night to see the shower is Dec. 13 into the early hours of Dec. 14. The Geminid meteor shower is caused by a stream of debris left by the asteroid, 3200 Phaethon. When the Earth passes through the trails of dust every December left by 3200 Phaethon, we see the Geminid meteor shower as the dust (meteoroids) burn up in Earth’s atmosphere creating meteors. Geminids travel through Earth’s atmosphere at 78,000 mph and burn up far above the surface.”

I shot with two cameras the night after peak as well, but they didn’t capture enough meteors to make processing the images a priority. I’ll get around to it at some point, but it’s pretty clear that the meteor rate on the night after peak is far, far below the rates on the peak night and on the nights leading up to it.

For more of my photos from the Geminid meteor shower, you can see my photos of it since 2010 on my Flickr photostream.

Geminid Meteor Shower 2010, Canon 5D Mark II

Geminid Meteor Shower 2010. Canon 5D Mark II / EF 16-35 mm lens at 16 mm focal length.

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Leonid Meteor Shower at Topaz Lake

Leonid Meteor Shower at Topaz Lake
The Leonid meteor shower isn’t one of the stronger of the fairly well known meteor showers, all the more reason to take on the challenge and see what can be captured!  Fortunately there are several other meteor showers active on the same night, so we’re not entirely dependent on having a particularly good year for the Leonids shower itself.

Technically speaking, in this result, three of the meteors point to an origin point to the left of Orion, so are probably Leonids (or alpha Monocerotids). The others point to the right of Leo and are either Northern Taurids, Southern Taurids, or Delta Eridanids.

And in the “Murphy’s Law” of astrophotography, two of the brighter meteors occurred just before and after the camera was shooting!

Here’s a description of the Leonid meteor shower from NASA:
“It’s time for a shower. November brings the Leonid meteor shower. This shower is called the Leonid shower because the meteors seem to come from a point in the constellation Leo. But they are really much closer to Earth than these stars are. The starting point, called the radiant, is found in the part of Leo that looks to be a backwards question mark. This part is sometimes called the ‘sickle.’
A meteor is the streak of light that we see when a meteoroid enters Earth’s atmosphere. The Leonids usually contain many bright meteors with trails that can be seen for several minutes. And, you may see fireballs.”

They predict that a particularly active Leonid meteor shower may return as the earth crosses the debris stream from the comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle in 2028.

While I probably won’t be planning big expedition-style road trips specifically to go catch the Leonids in a particular location, they are a nice bonus to have available for landscape photography trips in mid-November.  Whether a late fall trip or an early trip to the desert, the Leonids do make a useful data point to consider in years when the night sky will be dark during their peak.

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Milky Way Season is On!

…If you don't mind getting up in the middle of the night! Fortunately the Milky Way rise time moves earlier in the night each month, until it gets downright reasonable and is in the sky after evening twilight for my night photography workshops from June through October.

#milkyway #nightphotography #landscapephotography #photographyworkshops

Www.jeffsullivanphotography.com

 

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2017 Bodie Night Photography Workshops Release Sale!

Some of the following dates are being initially offered on longer workshop packages, with early registration sale prices help me cover fees and deposits:

Jun 17 – Bodie Morning Interiors and Sunset/Milky Way Night Photography
Jun 23 – Bodie Milky Way Night Photography
July 21 – Bodie Milky Way Night Photography
Sept 15 – Bodie Milky Way Night Photography
Oct 13 – Bodie Milky Way Night Photography

More details on the packages I'm offering these in, with registration links:
http://www.jeffsullivanphotography.com/blog/bodie-night-photography-workshops/

This photo is from one of our first night photography workshops in Bodie , about 25 of them ago, way back in 2012.

#BodieStatePark #nightphotography #workshops #california

 

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Adam Ondra's Historic Free Climb of El Capitan

I was wondering who would be climbing El Capitan at night, but when you have a record to break, every minute is precious. I learned after my workshop last week that we had captured Adam Ondra on his record-breaking free climb of El Capitan on the night of November 15.

+Outside Magazine has the full story:
How Adam Ondra Pulled Off the Dawn Wall
http://www.outsideonline.com/2138561/how-adam-ondra-pulled-dawn-wall

#AdamOndra #climbing #Yosemite #ElCapitan #news #nightphotography #photographyworkshop #landscapephotography

 

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Yosemite Fall Colors at Night

Merced River Fall Swirls

Earth and fall leaves rotation


Fall can be a great time to visit Yosemite National Park.  You have all of Yosemite’s usual iconic granite monoliths for subjects, ample opportunities for reflections in the Merced River, and if the timing lines up, you can time your trip to coincide with opportunities to place the moon in your compositions.

Solar Rainbow in Yosemite Valley

Image licensed for use by National Geographic

Merced River Fall Reflection

Merced River Reflection


As I describe in my guidebook “Photographing California Vol. 2 – South“, various species of trees typically turn color in different weeks, so the season can be broad, and you don’t have to hit the timing perfectly.  But like fall colors elsewhere, depending upon what compositions you want and what species are growing where you’re shooting, there will be a peak time that might last a few days.  So it is very helpful to have knowledge of what’s blooming that week, and what scenic views that week’s colorful trees grow in.

Yosemite Fall Colors

Dogwood trees in fall


Half Dome, Full MoonIn 2017 we’ll have multiple added bonuses: moon rise compositions and night photography of the colorful landscape under ample moonlight.  I’ve been anticipating moon rise compositions since 2006, so I’m getting pretty good at setting them up.  I have one in mind that would be best to hike to, another that we can easily walk to the shooting position for.

This time of year the sun sets by 6 pm, so night photography can also occur at a very civilized hour.  Like many photogenic events in national parks these days, fall colors season in Yosemite gets promoted on social media, and it is starting to get a little crowded.  Most of the visitors are tourists, and virtually none of them are out practicing night photography.  So night photography is a great way to revisit the best vistas and capture them in a new light.  Literally!

Star and Leaf Trails in Yosemite
Long night exposures also can be extended to produce star trails images, and we often pick up “leaf trails” as well.

For more samples of the types of images we can pursue, take a look at my Yosemite Fall Colors album on Flickr.  Since Yosemite is spectacular in addition to the fall colors, you might want to browse my Yosemite National Park album as well.

The fall colors workshop runs Nov 1 – 5. 2017 if you’d like to join us:
Nov 1 – 5 – Yosemite Fall Colors & Full Moon Photography – 4 days, $995

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End of the Season

Yosemite's Tioga Pass Road closed yesterday, but it will be in my dreams all winter long. If you have my guidebook "Photographing California Vol. 2 -South", you may recognize this location from page 42.

http://www.jeffsullivanphotography.com/blog/photographing-california-travel-guidebook/
#yosemite #nationalpark #nightphotography #photoworkshops

 

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Stormy Day in Bodie

Originally shared by +Jeff Sullivan Photography

At lest a couple of dozen photos from the July 29 night photography workshop are included in the Bodie Photography Workshops album. Torrential rains came to town at 3 pm, just as many workshop participants were leaving town to join us for a pre-workshop dinner at Virginia Creek Settlement. The rain cleared the air of smoke from California's wildfires, then the clouds added to the drama in the sky through golden hour and into sunset, but as often happens, quickly broke up for night photography. It was perfect photography workshop weather!

Our remaining Bodie workshops in 2016 are getting pretty full, so I'm looking into potentially adding a date in October. Let me know if you want to hear about 2017 dates once I have them. The most popular dates do fill quickly these days.
http://www.jeffsullivanphotography.com/blog/bodie-night-photography-workshops/

#nightphotography #photographyworkshops #easternsierra #Bodie #ghosttown

              

In Album Bodie Photography Workshops

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High Sierra Milky Way

Seeing this photo from one of my Tioga Pass/Eastern Sierra workshops this summer makes me want to go back out!

http://www.jeffsullivanphotography.com/blog/yosemite-national-park-photography-workshops/ #nightphotography #landscapephotography #photographyworkshops #Yosemite #nationalpark

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