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Saturn, Mars, and Spica (and clouds)

Posted: 14 August 2012

After the brief Occultation of Venus rainshower, stormy weather continued. About an hour before sunset on Monday, 13 August 2012, another thunderstorm came through, with some rain and frequent lightning. There was even a nice double rainbow that I photographed (available on my Occulation of Venus report). Sunset was pretty:


But it did make the observatory look a little lonely.

I wanted to photograph the line up of Saturn, Spica, and Mars after sunset, to compare to their previous configurations on 3 August, 9 August, and 10 August, but the clouds would make that difficult. Finally, at 2016 MST, a small thin area of clouds made its way to their location and I was able to capture this view of the lineup of Saturn (top), Mars (middle), and Spica (bottom):


I used the Nikon D7000 DSLR, f/4.2, 5 second exposure, at ISO 200 and a focal length of 34mm for the above photo. A flash was used to illuminate the tree in the foreground. This next wider view shows the extensive cloud cover and was taken at 2017 MST, f/3.5, 5 seconds, ISO 500, 18mm:


Saturn, Mars, and Spica are at the center of the frame, above the flash-illuminated tree. (The large "spots" in the image are from small bugs that were flying around and were illuminated by the flash.)

While I was trying to capture a photograph of Saturn, Mars, and Spica, there was frequent lightning south of my location. I was able to photograph this one:


Cassiopeia Observatory was not opened this night.

Comments are welcome; use the Comments section below, or you can Email Me. Thanks.

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