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Planets on parade…

Phew! The weather gods smiled on us here in Kendal tonight, and allowed us a sparkling view of the Venus occultation! At 4pm the weather looked decidedly dodgy, with the Sun and everything else hidden behind a thick blanket of cloud, but by 4.30 the Moon had reappeared, with Jupiter shining above it, so I headed double time up to Kendal Castle, with my 4.5″ scope and various cameras, to try and observe and even get some images of the event. By the time I’d slogged up the hill it was perishing cold, with a brutally chilly wind scouring the hilltop and the ruins of the castle, but the view was absolutely stunning, with the Moon and Jupiter blazing away above the castle’s crumbling towers…

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Venus was still hidden behind the Moon at this point, but with just twenty minutes to go I set up the telescope and trained it on the quivering Moon… the image danced and jigged about like a thing posessed, but it was a stunning sight… Finally, dead on time, Venus reappeared from behind the lunar disc, so bright and so suddenly that it looked like an atomic bomb had detonated on the Moon’s limb. It looked like a diamond shining next to the Moon, and even though I’ve been observing the night sky for more than 30 years I was blown away by the view through my telescope…

A few minutes later Venus had cleared the limb and looked like this in the eyepiece…

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It was at this point that my mobile phone rang – BBC Radio Cumbria wanting to talk to me about the occultation, so I stood there in the bitter cold, shivering, describing what I had just seen, and what I was seeing, to radio listeners across the county. And at just that moment, as if on cue, the space station appeared in the west and started to trace its high, graceful arc over town… a quite beautiful sight…

I went back to taking photos and gazing at the view through my scope, even though the cold was worsening. Twenty minutes or so after Venus had reappeared, this was the memorable view of the planetary alignment above Kendal Castle…

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… and a final, close-up view…

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What a night! Worth almost getting frostbite for…! 🙂

By the way, a special thanks to BBC Radio Cumbria’s presenter Nigel Thompson, for inviting me on to his evening show to talk about the event. If you can access the BBC’s iPlayer you can hear our chats here at 12mins and 51ms…

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One Response

  1. Great job.

    If you have time, please visit my pages :

    Moon, Venus, Jupiter on December 1, 2008
    http://funscience.gistda.or.th/rainbow/smiley_1dec08/index.html

    Moon, Venus, Jupiter on December 2, 2008
    http://funscience.gistda.or.th/rainbow/sadface_2dec08/index.html

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