Conjunction Colours


Conjunction Colours

The last few nights have held a lovely conjunction with Mars, Saturn and the bright star Spica forming a striking triangle in the evening sky. Although Mars and Saturn are not the brightest planets, I was keen to capture an image that would show the colour variation between the orange-red of Mars, pale yellow of Saturn and the brilliant blue of Spica. Hope you like this image I captured as the three set behind some eucalyptus (gum) trees on the evening of Sunday 12th August, while I was running a workshop on the shores of Lake Eppalock, in central Victoria, Australia.

Colourful Conjunction of Saturn (right), Mars and Spica (left). 12th August 2012. Colourful Conjunction of Saturn (right), Mars and Spica (left): 12th August 2012 Canon 5D mkII, Pentax 300mm lens 20 minute exposure, f5.6, ISO100

My original plan was to try and capture an image on my tracking equatorial mount (EQ6) but I got distracted with other things, then couldn't find the blur filter I wanted to use and ended up losing it in the trees from where the mount was setup before I had got many images. So I switched to Plan B which was using the camera just on a tripod to get some out-of-focus star trails. The first attempt looked promising so I experimented with some longer exposures and this is what I ended up with. A bit abstract but I like it :-).


Just saw your image of Spica, Mars and Saturn sky trails on APOD. Great image! Please keep up the good work.

thanks David. getting an APOD is a nice feeling :-).

I also saw the Moon with Mars & Spika two nights ago from Northern California. It was an incredibly beautiful site.

Also here from APOD. I've never seen combining shallow DOF with a long exposure of stars before. Very cool... it's a Tron light cycle race!

I love the photo of the planets and Spica. Have been looking at them every evening. The colours are striking - all in all a great image

Is this a single 20 minute exposure or multiple exposures taken over 20 minutes and layered? I am asking because of this follow up question: how do you keep the noise down? I have a 600d and I know the 5d mk II is much better at handling noise, but still a twenty minute exposure I'm sure would show any camera's noise. Please explain? Thanks!

Single exposure but at very low ISO. Lightroom takes care of the few hot pixels under the Detail tab even with default settings.

Hi Phil: Fabulous photos. Was at Lemphers for lunch today. All are thinking of you. Keep having fun! Faye