Good Morning Stars

Waning Moon
Waning Moon (pre-dawn Tuesday 10 July 2012)

I let Apollo out this morning and looked up (like I always do) and realized the sky was unusually clear, free of haze or clouds. I vaguely remembered reading an astronomy alert on Monday about Jupiter or Venus being less than ten degrees from a bright star (which one I couldn’t remember off the top fo my head). So, I left Apollo in the back yard and traversed the house to the front door on the east side. I stepped outside and had to walk down the steps to get out from under my large black oak tree, which blocks all of the eastern horizon when you look out the front door or windows of my house. Up and to the southeast I easily found the waning moon (see photo above). Turning back to the east, I found a very bright Venus and a somewhat less bright (but not by much) Jupiter directly above it. And just to the lower right of Venus, I could barely see a star twinkling. 

I went back in the house and grabbed my camera.  The tripod stayed locked in the trunk of the car.  I just hoped I could keep steady enough to capture the ‘morning stars’ from the driveway.  I took half a dozen shots of Jupiter and Venus and three or four of the waning moon.  Then I went inside to review the results. 

All but the last photo of Jupiter and Venus were blurry from not using a tripod.  Only one photo of the moon, done with some manual fiddling with the shutter and aperture proved to be passably viewable. 

I hopped on the website to access their Star Dome Plus subscriber only star atlas Java application.  I needed to determine the name of the star faintly sparkling next to bright Venus.  I set the app to look at 45 degrees of the eastern horizon at the time I took the photo (5:35 a.m. Central) and discovered Aldebaran of the constellation Taurus to be the star near our sister planet.  Here’s a screenshot of the eastern horizon courtesy of Star Dome Plus:

Eastern Horizon (Lansing, KS) Tues 10 July 2012 5:35 a.m. Central

I quickly edited my one good photo of the ‘morning stars’, rotating the orentation from landscape to portrait and adding some text labels to identify the objects observed. Here are both the unlabelled and labelled versions of that photo:

Morning Stars
Venus, Jupiter and Aldebaran (pre-dawn Tuesday 10 July 2012)

Morning Stars (labeled)

I did remember to let Apollo back in from his morning soujourn through the backyard. He turned his nose up at his breakfast and climbed up on the couch for his morning nap.