Friday, October 23, 2009

Saturn, Venus, Mercury & Moon Conjunction

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Planet conjunctions are some of the prettiest scenes in the morning sky. When a thin crescent Moon is in there, it is even more beautiful. About 6:30 a.m., Friday morning October 16, I looked out of my RV window and saw the above scene. I jumped out of bed, grabbed my camera, slapped it on my tripod, put a jacket over my pajamas and stepped outside and started shooting various exposures before twilight washed it out. These type of events last for only a few minutes, where the color and lighting is just right. Before that magic moment, the sky is too dark and afterwards the sky is too bright. This conjunction has Saturn at the top, Venus below it and Mercury near the horizon, and of course the Moon.

Click on the image for a larger view
Not all conjunctions appear in the morning sky. The next conjunction with the Moon in the scene is on December 20, 2009 evening sky, about 6:45 p.m. In this scene, the planets are Jupiter and Mercury. On this date, Venus and Saturn are still only visible in the morning sky, with Venus being only 5 degrees from the Sun and probably too close to see. How do I know this information? Well, I use a planetarium program called Starry Night Pro. It's very easy to find conjunctions like these. I lock the view on the Moon, then go forward day by day and watch for the Moon to be near planets, bright stars, etc. I then mark my calendar and wait for that date and hope for a clear sky.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mellow Yellow - Aspen Fall Colors in the Rocky Mountains

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Mountain Valley Panoramic in Rocky Mountain National Park
For a slide show of the Aspens in the Rockies click here:
Once in the show, click the f11 key for a better view
I spent a few days visiting my daughter and family in Colorado. Her family moved to Castle Rock, CO from Florida. Quite a change in climate and altitude. She had a housewarming party for all the relatives in Colorado and got a chance to visit with a few I had not seen in many years.
The Aspens were changing color at higher elevations, so my wife Gloria, daughter Pam, four year old grandson, Tyler and I spend a wonderful day driving around looking for scenes of golden light to photograph. In the morning, we drove through Denver up to Loveland, the west up the Thompson Canyon to Estes Park. We had no time to stop and enjoy the towering canyon, nor buys Estes Park, except for a bit of lunch. Using Pam's State Park pass (saving me $20), we drove into the Rocky Mountain National Park. The Ranger at the entrance told us that the road to Bear Lake, where most of the Aspens are located, was congested with traffic, so instead we drove up Trail Ridge road. We found a few Aspens here, but not what I was looking for, so we backtracked to Estes Park, then drove south down highway 7, 72 and 119. Along this route we stopped at many places for some colorful views of the golden trees along the mountain sides, streams and valleys. Click on the above link to see a slide show.