The much anticipated "Christmas Star" conjunction occurred on December 21, 2020. It was visible here at the ObservaRory for a few hours after sunset as clouds moved in and out. My wife and I got to share it with a few neighbors--social distancing was also observed! It was a real Dobsonian event!
To me, the best part of these sorts of things is that it sparks public interest in what is going on above. So many people never seem to look up, but who can really blame them? There is not much to see in the light-polluted skies where most people live.
The downside of these well-publicized events, though, is that they tend to be sensationalized and made out to be something that they are not. For example, a few people were expecting to see a bright star shining down on them like something out of a Christmas movie. The reality was considerably less spectacular, and difficult for some to even identify. Ironically, some people mistook Mars for the Christmas Star because it was more prominent in the sky.
But that aside, this was an event that none of us will see again in our lifetimes.
Well, sort of...
Planetary conjunctions are not that uncommon an occurrence. What made this one special was the apparent proximity of Jupiter and Saturn--it is not often one can fit two planets in the same field of view in a telescope. Objects in the sky have no variation in distance to the naked eye, so even though both planets are physically millions of miles apart, they appeared to be on a collision course from here on Earth. It is an out-of-the-ordinary thing to those who pay attention to the movement of the planets, but probably of little or no interest to individuals who keep their focus elsewhere.
OK, enough of my rambling thoughts. Let's get to some pictures.
|Jupiter/Saturn conjunction; AT72EDII; Mallincam SkyRaider w/2X Barlow; SkyWatcher EQ6-R Pro mount; 215 frames; RegiStax 6, Photoshop CS6 (contrast enhancement, cropping)|
|Mars; AT72EDII; Mallincam SkyRaider w/2X Barlow; SkyWatcher EQ6-R Pro mount; RegiStax 6, Photoshop CS6 (contrast enhancement and enlargement, cropping)|
I slewed over to Mars on a whim, not thinking that I would see much. But, to my surprise, the image results were actually pretty good! I wish now that I had made the attempt to image Mars during the last opposition. I did not write down the number of frames that were stacked, but it was probably more than 100. This image has been enlarged.
|Moon; AT72EDII; Mallincam SkyRaider w/2X Barlow; SkyWatcher EQ6-R Pro mount; 248 frames; RegiStax 6, Photoshop CS6 (contrast enhancement, cropping)|
|Moon; AT72EDII; Mallincam SkyRaider w/2X Barlow; SkyWatcher EQ6-R Pro mount; 215 frames; RegiStax 6, Photoshop CS6 (cropping)|
How could I not take some pictures of the moon?
Those very few of you who follow this blog have probably noted my general absence over the past few years. Since the passing of my son, Patrick, my interest in hobbies has waned significantly. I feel, though, that I am starting to turn a corner. With the winter constellations now here, I hope to get back into imaging.