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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Space Debris 9:37 pm July 27

Originally shared by +Jeff Sullivan

Space debris enters the atmosphere near Mono Lake California at 9:37 pm July 27, identified as the second stage from the first Chang Zheng 7 rocket, launched Jun 25, reentered at 0440 UTC. A sonic boom (or sound from an explosion) arrived 9:45pm.

#astrophotography #canon #6D #news #nightphotography #landscapephotography #space


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Space Debris 9:37 pm July 27

Space debris enters the atmosphere near Mono Lake California at 9:37 pm July 27, identified as the second stage from the first Chang Zheng 7 rocket, launched Jun 25, reentered at 0440 UTC. A sonic boom (or sound from an explosion) arrived 9:45pm.

#astrophotography #canon #6D #news #nightphotography #landscapephotography #space


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Vandenberg Launch Coming This Saturday Night

This launch may be visible from much of Southern California:

From: 30th Space Wing Public Affairs, www.vandenberg.af.mil


VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – – An operational test launch of an Air Force Global Strike Command unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile is scheduled between 11:00 p.m. PST Saturday, Feb. 20 and 5:00 a.m. PST Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016, from north Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The purpose of the ICBM test launch program is to validate and verify the effectiveness, readiness and accuracy of the weapon system, according to Air Force Global Strike Command.

Col. J. Christopher Moss, 30th Space Wing commander, is the launch decision authority.

"This mission continues a long string of vital ICBM flight tests from
Vandenberg Air Force Base," said Moss. "The launch not only demonstrates the capability of the Minuteman III weapon system, but also the tremendous capabilities of Airmen who maintain and operate it. The men and women of the 30th Space Wing are proud to partner with the Air Force Global Strike Command team to conduct this important launch."

The launch team, under the direction of the 576th Flight Test Squadron, includes aircrew members from the 625th Strategic Operations Squadron, Offutt AFB, Nebraska, and crew members and maintainers from the 91st Missile Wing, Minot AFB, North Dakota.

The 576th FLTS is responsible for installed tracking, telemetry and command destruct systems on the missile, which collect data and ensure safety requirements, are met.
Launch-Alert mailing list
Home: http://mailman.qth.net/mailman/listinfo/launch-alert
Help: http://mailman.qth.net/mmfaq.htm

#space #astrophotography #southerncalifornia

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Leonid Meteor, 3:58 am

A Leonid meteor at 3:58 am this morning, showing the way back to the shower's radiant point in the constellation Leo.

#astronomy #astrophotography #Leonids #science #space


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Behind-the-Scenes at NASA's Kennedy Space Center

NASA's new Orion spacecraft represents a major step towards manned missions to Mars. For the EFT-1 Exploration Flight Test of NASA's Orion spacecraft last week, 150 people were selected to tour NASA Kennedy Space Center and see the various stages it went through in fabrication, testing, and assembly on its way to launch. We were also treated to press conference style presentations with Q&A afterwards.

To see the photos, blog posts and articles coming out of NASA's event, search for the hashtags #orion and #nasasocial on G+, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. To the extent that participants post on G+, I just posted a circle of them so you can see their posts.

For more of my space photos, you can see my Space album here:

I've also uploaded a sequence of photos from the launch itself:

#NASA #space #ULAlaunch #KennedySpaceCenter #science #scienceeveryday


In Album Space

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Rosetta comet landing occurs successfully!

Coverage live now: http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/#.VGN2XyrF98E
#cometlanding #space #science #news #rosetta #rosettamission


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Antares Rocket Explodes!

Wow. Failure of the private resupply launch for the International Space Station earlier today.
#space #news #Antares

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How to Photograph Comet Siding Spring by Mars This Weekend

Comet Siding Spring is approaching and passing Mars this weekend, October 18-19. I've placed some notes and sample images on my blog to help you pursue photos of the event:
#CometSidingSpring #Mars #space #nightphotography #astrophotography #astronomy #news


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