Four Planets Along the Morning Ecliptic

By: Alan Dyer

Oct 20 2015

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: Sky Events, Solar System

3 Comments

Aperture:f/2.8
Focal Length:35mm
ISO:800
Shutter:1/2 sec
Camera:Canon EOS 6D

Four planets appear in the dawn sky outlining the morning ecliptic.

This morning, October 20, I was able to capture four planets in the morning sky, arrayed along the ecliptic.

From bottom to top they are: Mercury (just past its point of greatest elongation from the Sun), dim Mars, bright Jupiter, and very bright Venus (just 6 days away from its point of greatest elongation from the Sun). Above Venus is Regulus, in Leo.

I’ve added in the labels and the line of the ecliptic, rising steeply out of the east in the autumn dawn sky.

Of course, there is a fifth unlabelled planet in the scene, quite close in the foreground.

The image below is an unlabeled version.

Four planets in the morning sky, on October 20, 2015, along the ecliptic from bottom to top:  - Mercury (close to the horizon at lower left) - Mars (dim, below Jupiter) - Jupiter (fairly bright at upper right) - Venus (brightest of the four) I shot this from home in southern Alberta. This is a composite stack of 5 exposures from 15 seconds to 1 second to contain the range of brightness from the bright horizon to the dimmer sky up higher. All with the 35mm lens and Canon 6D at ISO 800.

Mercury will be disappearing from view very quickly now as it drops back down toward the Sun.

But over the next week the three higher planets will converge into a tight triangle just 4.5 degrees apart. We won’t see these three planets this close together in a darkened sky until November 2111.

For more information on this week’s dawn sky planet dance see my previous blog entry.

TECHNICAL:
I shot the scene from home in southern Alberta. The image is a composite stack, with manually created masks (not an HDR stack), of 5 exposures, from 15 seconds to 1 second, to contain the range of brightness from the bright horizon to the dimmer star-filled sky higher up. All are with the 35mm lens and Canon 6D at ISO 800.

— Alan, October 20, 2015 / © 2015 Alan Dyer / www.amazingsky.com

3 comments on “Four Planets Along the Morning Ecliptic”

    • Alan,

      Is the masking technique you used on this covered in your book? Also, though the metadata you listed indicates f2.8, am I correct in assuming at least the one of 5 shots used to assemble this, the one containing Venus, was shot at a much smaller aperture (given the starlike effect)?

      Thanks,
      Nathan

      • Hi – no, all shots were at f/2.8 – that’s enough with the f1.4 lens I used to add diffraction spikes off the diaphragm aperture. And masking is included in the book’s tutorials but in this case it’s pretty easy – just create a mask and paint the mask with a soft big black brush to hide the bright areas in the long exposure images.


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