Near The Horizon

Last night I joined my Macarthur Astronomical Society friends at Campbelltown Rotary Observatory for another of our public astronomy nights. With over three hundred visitors from far and wide, we were treated to the sight of each of the five naked eye planets (plus Neptune through the telescope). Only Uranus escaped us!

Fortunately a fascinating planetary conjunction has been in progress this month, with Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn all in the Western part of the sky. Saturn and Mars were directly overhead.

Half way through the evening, the Moon rose in the East, , to many oohs and aahs – and it looked astonishing as it slowly began it’s climb above the horizon, a dense orange colour at first, before rising higher into its more familiar silvery look.

Mercury and Jupiter will both disappear within two weeks. Venus will rise higher and dominate the Western sky:

2016-08-20 Mercury, Jupiter & Setting Venus
2016-08-20 Mercury (top left), Jupiter (top right) & Setting Venus (bottom).


This month’s appearance of Mercury is one of the finest I can recall seeing and it was possible (through the telescope) to show it’s 50% illumination phase :

2016-08-20 Mercury & Jupiter
2016-08-20 Mercury (left) & Jupiter


This view looks directly across the central business district of Campbelltown. The star to the Moon’s left (above Noel’s orange telescope) is Markab. Neptune was in the Moon’s vicinity but I needed my telescope to find it:

2016-08-20 Moonrise over Campbelltown
2016-08-20 Moon rise over Campbelltown

Four days earlier I shot this image of the planetary conjunction as an aircraft passed by on it’s way to Sydney Airport. Notice the slightly different configuration of the three planets:

Picture saved with settings embedded.
2016-08-16 Jupiter Mercury Venus & Aircraft

All images © R.Powell


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