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Planets on Parade…

Yesterday morning (Friday, October 9th) I was lucky enough to see, and photograph, a beautiful line up of planets in the eastern sky before dawn –

Actually, no, I wasn’t lucky. Luck had nothing to do with it. As you need to do with many astronomical events, I planned it out carefully in advance, checking times, and dates, and angles and exactly how they would look, and where, and was in exactly the right place at exactly the right time to see what was going on; the only element of luck in the whole thing involved the weather, because it was wonderfully miraculously clear at 04.30 when I went out, ready to photograph the Great Parade Of Planets…

When I got up at half four, unfolding myself out of the front seat of the van I’d slept in for three hours, after an evening of aurora-spotting, I peeked out the misted-over window and saw the sky was breathtakingly clear. Looking in the side mirror I could see Venus blazing like a diamond just above a nearby wood, and knew that the Moon wouldn’t be far behind, hidden by the trees, so I slid out of the van, grabbed my camera and tripod, and headed away a short distance before finally looking back… and seeing…

1st view

Oh wow…

A short time later Mars cleared the trees, and Jupiter rose too…

2nd view

Here, let me put some labels on that for you…

2nd view labelled…and basically I stayed out there for the next two and a half hours, taking different photos of the planets as they rose higher, with different lenses and settings, just – and many astro-photographers and observers forget to do this – having fun with something amazing in the sky! 🙂 While I waited for the planets to gain some altitude I took the opportunity to do some tracked deep sky imaging with my iOptron star tracker…


On the left, below, you can see a single 2 minute long tracked image taken with the tracker. On the right, a processed stack of ten 30 second images…

collage M42

…and with a bit more work you can get images like these…




But back to the planets. Here are the best photos I took…

Leo Planets f

planets plus cloud


Planets and clouds

As dawn approached I was also able to get *another* planet in my pictures, Mercury…!

4 worlds labelled

I was pleased to have four worlds on one photo, but then it was pointed out to me that I’d actually got SIX…

6 worlds f labels


Stella joined me for a few photos, as you can see…



By seven am it was just too bright to see Mars, Mercury and Jupiter, but Venus and the Moon were still visible in the cold, blue sky, but I needed to get *some* sleep so returned to the van.

And just to round things off, earlier in the evening I had managed to track down Uranus and Neptune too, so I actually photographed every (official) planet in the solar system except Saturn over the course of one night… 🙂 I just missed out on photographing Saturn as it had already set when we got to our observing site, but I’ll definitely try again from Kielder starcamp next week.

collage 8 worlds


3 Responses

  1. […] 9. Oktober in Nordamerika (mehr, mehr und mehr) und Europa (mit klar auch Merkur; mehr, mehr, mehr, mehr, mehr, mehr und Detail – und noch viel mehr […]

  2. Wow! What a night! Are those cows silhouetted against the dawn sky in ‘Six Worlds’? Wonderful photos- doesn’t do them justice. Also, glad to see the tracking is working out well in the deeper sky photos. And thank you for sharing your incredible aurora photos. Ripples and rays? Wonderful!

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