True From top: The Moon, Jupiter and Venus travel northwest toward the horizon. GIF of 61 images taken a minute apart over one hour. Bonus: my dad's hand appears on the left at 8:23 as he points to the International Space Station, which made a two-minute transit north of the moondance. Alex Farris
It's a marvelous night for a moondance | Alex Farris Photo Blog
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2012.02.28
If you haven't taken the time recently to look at the sky, now is a good time to do so. For the last few days, the Moon, Venus and Jupiter have appeared really close together in the Northern Hemisphere's western sky. The two planets have shone brightly, too, with apparent magnitudes of -4.6 and -2.7 respectively. (The smaller an object's magnitude number, the brighter it appears. For comparison, the usual brightness of a full Moon is -12.74; the brightest star in the sky, Sirius, shines at -1.47; and the naked eye in a typical urban neighborhood can't see anything dimmer than +3 or +4.)

Intrigued by the footage of the planets' movements on NBC Nightly News (but knowing about it beforehand), I decided to record it for myself. I set up the camera on a tripod and took photos every minute between 8 and 9 p.m., and then I put it all into a .gif file for easy consumption.

I've been on a science kick recently, and I can't explain why. I've always been a nerd; two of my favorite movies since I was six years old are Apollo 13 and Contact, and I often find myself watching videos and listening to podcasts of Neil deGrasse Tyson. Hell, my job is orthopedic research, and I have a minor in biology. There's no reason I can find to go on a science binge now and not another time (although recent clear weather certainly helps). Then again, I suppose I don't need a reason.

Flip the light switch
From top: The Moon, Jupiter and Venus travel northwest toward the horizon. GIF of 61 images taken a minute apart over one hour. Bonus: my dad's hand appears on the left at 8:23 as he points to the International Space Station, which made a two-minute transit north of the moondance. Alex Farris
Bonus: the waxing crescent moon through a Polaris telescope Alex Farris

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