Baby Moon to Venus: “Tag, You’re It!”

For the third day in a row this week, I planned an evening excursion to photograph astronomical objects converging on the western horizon during twilight. The people living along First Street on the hill above Main Street in Lansing probably think I’m crazy, camping out on the sidewalk with either a telescope or a camera on a tripod for hours on end.

Sunday, of course, I observed and photographed the solar eclipse.  Monday, I hunted and failed to catch a glimpse of a very young, very slim crescent moon.  Tuesday, I wanted to catch the two-day old moon as it passed by Venus for the last time this year.

But of course, I got home around five thirty to a distraction, albeit a pleasant one.  Rachelle had cooked dinner for Terry and I and invited Grandpa over.  Tuesday was her last full day visiting us.  She returns to North Texas today.  She created a marinara sauce from scratch, prepared tri-colored rotini pasta, sauteed some kale and created a fresh green salad from baby spinach and baby romaine.  I created some garlic cheese bread from a fresh loaf I baked on Sunday.  We definitely got our quota of veggies yesterday!

After supper, my dad and I retired to the backyard with my camera and my telephoto lens.  He had created a solar filter from the same film he used to create the larger filter for the telescope (used during Sunday’s solar eclipse observations).  He attached it to the telephoto lens and I took a couple of shots of the sun before it sunk below my neighbor’s roof line.

Sun (with solar filter, sans tripod) – click for larger image

We returned inside to find Terry napping (aka food coma) and Rachelle watching YouTube videos of her choir performance from last winter. I put the camera back in the bag and told everyone I was leaving to photograph the sunset, the crescent moon and Venus. Dad tagged along, since he had to head north to return home anyway.

I setup the tripod and camera near where I photographed the sunset Monday evening, moving a few feet further down the hill on the sidewalk to the south. I was looking for a less obstructed angle to the western horizon, trying to avoid some intervening trees. I took several shots as the sun set, but was really just killing time until Venus appeared, followed by the crescent moon.

Sunset (Tuesday May 22, 2012) – click image for rest of album

I continued to take photographs of Venus, the moon and the western horizon until a quarter to ten. I waited until twilight faded enough to see earthshine on the moon.

Earthshine on Moon, with Venus (late twilight, Tuesday, May 22, 2012) – click image to see rest of album

The faintness of the crescent moon surprised me.  I thought I would be able to see the moon before I could see Venus, but that was definitely not the case last night.  The haze and wispy clouds made it difficult to discern the slim sliver of the moon, while Venus blazed like a pinprick laser, even before the sun set. As noted above, this is the last time the moon and Venus will pass this close to each other this year.  And since in less than two weeks, Venus crosses the face of the sun, just as the Moon did two days ago, I declared a game of tag between the two of them.  Venus is “It” for at least the next fortnight.

Earthshine Moon Near Venus (click for larger image)

I packed up the photographic equipment and said goodnight to my dad. I returned home and immediately went to bed. I would download the photos from the SD card in the morning.

I only snoozed through one alarm this morning. I woke up Terry’s computer and downloaded the photos. I spent about thirty minutes sifting through the shots, discarding some really horrible overexposed yellow sunset chaff. I hand picked a dozen or so sunset and moon shots. I uploaded the first group and created a sunset album. I attempted to upload the second group of the Moon and Venus photos, but kept having errors. I tried and retried until I almost made myself late picking up my vanpool riders. I grabbed the SD card, stuffed it in my purse and ran out the door. I left the annoying home computer attempting to upload the photos while I commuted to work. I discovered some of the photos actually did upload, but not all of them. Enough of them, though, for me to get this blog post started and published. So, check back later today or tomorrow to see the rest of the photos (just click on the images above to see the rest of the photos in the albums).

Tilted View of Moon and Venus (just because I’m twisted like that) – click for larger image

I think I’m done with amateur astrophotography for the week.  I need to get back to my walking regimen.  I even forgot to put my pedometer on this morning, which I haven’t done in months.  Apollo will miss Rachelle, so I need to distract him from moping around the house and return to our evening walks around Lansing.