June 8th, 2020, 02:30 a.m. local time
We* here at Paul Stephen’s Journal will do whatever it takes** to bring you some of the most fascinating images of our Solar System and beyond. If staying up until 2:30 a.m. is necessary, we’ll* do it!
This early morning view of two planets and the Moon was simply too good to miss, so yes, I stayed up to at least see it when the Moon had risen high in the South. Jupiter and then Saturn followed. Frankly it was pretty cool, and I can’t wait for what views will top this one in the ensuing months.
If I believed in astrology, I would probably think this planetary configuration was the harbinger of a great sign or omen. Fortunately, my only reaction was to enjoy the view, and to run back inside to get my phone and capture what I could of the scene.
The image is heavily edited, taken from a source iPhone NightCap TIF. I tried my best to compensate for the Moon’s brightness, the area’s light pollution, and keeping especially Saturn visible. The end result is a somewhat blurry mess, but hopefully the framing gives proportion as to what the sky looked like. And this does give a proper perspective of the light pollution in my area, from the front lights to the general blandness of the sky (though the Moon was largely a contributing factor).
On a related note, on the previous night, around 9:05 p.m. local time, I spotted Mercury for the first time this year. The sky was about as clear as it could be. With Dusk still settling, I used Pollux and Castor as the easy guide stars to look down, with my binoculars, to find Mercury. Once found this way, I was able to make the planet out, barely, with the naked eye. Through the binoculars I also spotted, still in Dusk, a faint star to the right of Mercury, which according to Stellarium was likely the 3.05 magnitude Mebsuta.
Three planets spotted within six hours. My planet viewing season has begun!
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