Moon and Planets Conjunction from Avoca Beach, 1st May 2011

May is the month of Conjunctions, and it all started on the 1st May when the thin Crescent Moon, Mars, Venus, Mercury and Jupiter formed a nice grouping in the pre-dawn Eastern sky.

I had been looking forward to this for months, and the preparation wasn’t great. It had been raining all week, but when I woke up at 4am I found it clear, so I headed out to Avoca Beach to capture the scene.

Moon, Venus and Mercury over Avoca Beach

Moon, Venus and Mercury over Avoca Beach

Even though it was clear overhead and to the West, a horrible cloud bank sat in the East and covered most of the conjunction at the critical time. I was able to capture some of the Moon, Venus and Mercury while it was still dark but when the dawn light came to make a beautiful seascape, so did the clouds – and I never got to see Jupiter or Mars.

Moon, Venus and Mercury over Avoca Beach

Moon, Venus and Mercury over Avoca Beach

It was still very dark when these were captured, which meant long exposures and noisy images captured at ISO3200.

It was also a very rough sea that day, combined with high-tide, which meant I couldn’t walk around onto the rocks. I setup on the sand and my tripod just kept slipping while the 10+ second exposures were in progress so most of my shots ended up with little trails.

Moon, Venus and Mercury over Avoca Beach

Moon, Venus and Mercury over Avoca Beach

The clouds parted enough later on for some nice sunrise shots of the beach and rocks, but by then the sky was too high and it was still heavy cover.

So, here’s my results trying to capture the conjunction – certainly not my best and I’m not happy with them at all. Nevermind, some days it just doesn’t go to plan.

Moon and Venus. Mercury, Jupiter and Mars behind the clouds.

Moon and Venus. Mercury, Jupiter and Mars behind the clouds.

Fortunately there’s plenty of other opportunities during May to capture the 4 planets together, so I’ll head out again for round 2 during the month. The Crescent Moon joins the planets again at the end of the month – I have to hope it’s clear then!

Moon, Venus and Mercury at 105mm

Moon, Venus and Mercury at 105mm

To see some of the sunrise shots after these, check out my beautiful seascape photos of Avoca Beach at Sunrise.

Thanks for looking.

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