Sunday, December 20, 2020

The Great Conjunction, Saturn and Jupiter with Visible Moons at 300mm

I didn't have high hopes to get a glimpse of the great conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter this month. I've gotten my hopes up too many times and gotten burned by Indiana weather in December. Like my husband says, better to be pessimistic and pleasantly surprised if it works out. When I saw the clouds clearing up a bit this evening around sunset, I dusted off my camera and tripod. 

The conjunction wasn't visible at first, so I used a great iPhone app one-two punch to find what I was looking for. First I opened Star Walk and found Saturn, then clicked for more information to get the exact altitude (degrees above the horizon) and azimuth (horizontal degrees clockwise from true north). So this gave me the numbers for where Saturn should appear.

Next, I use one of my absolute favorite apps called Theodolite that uses the camera with on-screen display that shows altitude, azimuth, lets you take screen shots, and a whole bunch of other things. It feels like a professional grade surveyor app. So knowing Saturn should be about 15° above the horizon and 222° SW it was a snap finding where I should be pointing to make sure I had a clear view over the tree line. 

Once the sky got a little darker it was obvious because Jupiter and Saturn are so bright, but I think the planning helped me decide if I should even bother setting up in the backyard or if my view would be completely blocked. 

I was pleased I could get some trees in the foreground rather than just the conjunction against a wash background. Here's what I got...

jupiter and saturn conjunction 300mm december 20
Jupiter and Saturn taken with DSLR on fixed tripod, 300mm, f/5.6, ISO 800, 0.3 sec

december 20 2020 jupiter saturn 300mm photo
Same photo as above with labels added

jupiter saturn conjunction december 20 2020 with moons label

theodolite app screen shot jupiter saturn conjunction
Screen shot of Theodolite app tagging the Alt/Az of the conjunction and timestamp

I learned from the my comet Neowise photo that if I tweet at Sean Ash he'll sometimes feature astronomical photos on the WHTR Indianapolis channel 13 evening news, and sure enough he asked if he could feature the photo that same night. I'm famous! 

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