Photos of the Moon, Jupiter, Mercury & Mars Conjunction


I just love Moon and Planet conjunctions, and I just love early morning photography. When the two combine that’s when I hope to create something special. On the morning of the 23rd February, a beautiful conjunction rose in the pre-dawn sky. The Crescent Moon with earthshine on display shone brilliantly in the East as it was joined by three other celestial bodies, Mercury, Jupiter and Mars to give a sense of depth and feeling to the morning skies.

For ages last night I sat in bed wondering where to go to photograph this marvellous sight… wondering if it would be cloudy, would it be clear, would the skies provide the same dramatic scenery as I was presented for the Smiley Face Conjunction, would I remember the spare batteries, my tripod, the remote switch, would the alarm wake me up or would I sleep through it?!

Luckily, everything came together for a beautiful morning of photography and I was able to capture some stunning images of the Moon, Jupiter, Mercury and Mars conjunction.

Moon, Mercury, Jupiter and Mars Conjunction at Dawn

Moon, Mercury, Jupiter and Mars Conjunction at Dawn

Prints and Canvas available for purchase. Please contact me.

UPDATE: This image was featured on Astronomy Picture of the Day, February 26 2009.

The image above is my favourite from the session, and was taken with the Canon 20D and Sigma 17-70mm lens @ 33mm, f/5.6, 2.0s exposure @ ISO800.

Please continue reading below to see more photos of the conjunction gracing the lovely morning skies.

Even as I woke with my alarm this morning, I still wasn’t sure where to go to photograph the conjunction. A quick peak outside built my excitement as I could see stars, not clouds, which was a welcome change from the last week. I finally decided to head to Berkeley Vale, on the West side of Tuggerah Lake which has a few nice wharfs and a lovely view to the East over the lake towards Long Jetty and the Entrance.

I arrived at my location at about 5:10am and I could already see the Crescent Moon, Mercury beside it, and brighter Jupiter down below as the trio were barely above the muck and still tinted yellow from the diffraction of the light caused by Earth’s atmopshere. The photo below was taken @ 300mm, 2.5s exposure.

Moon, Mercury, Jupiter and Mars Conjunction at Dawn

Moon, Mercury, Jupiter and Mars Conjunction at Dawn

The sky was still very dark with no sign of the pre-dawn glow from the rising Sun. The dark skies meant the early exposures had to be quite long, resulting in trailing of the planets ruining the photo. As I surveyed the area for more photographic opportunities, I noticed Mars was now visible above the haze and I was able to get a few tight shots of the grouping with the stock 75-300mm lens.

Moon, Mercury, Jupiter and Mars Conjunction at Dawn

Moon, Mercury, Jupiter and Mars Conjunction at Dawn

Moon, Mercury, Jupiter and Mars Conjunction

Moon, Mercury, Jupiter and Mars Conjunction

Before long, I noticed a distinct change as a glow appeared on the horizon and colours started to fill the sky. I quickly changed back to my Sigma 17-70mm lens and started to photograph the scene in my favourite way – with a beautiful foreground scene and an equally stunning astronomical interest in the sky.

The lake was very calm and still and the reflection of the conjunction on the water was just magic. The tide was fairly low so I had to squelch out into the mud near the shore to get close enough to the water to capture these shots. It paid off!

Conjunction Reflection at Dawn

Conjunction Reflection at Dawn

Moon, Mercury, Jupiter and Mars Conjunction at Dawn

Moon, Mercury, Jupiter and Mars Conjunction at Dawn

The light was changing minute to minute now, and the pace got frantic as I changed location every few minutes looking for a different perspective, a different foreground element to complement the scene.

Moon, Mercury, Jupiter and Mars over Tuggerah Lake

Moon, Mercury, Jupiter and Mars over Tuggerah Lake

Moon, Mercury, Jupiter and Mars Conjunction at Dawn

Moon, Mercury, Jupiter and Mars Conjunction at Dawn

The birds started singing and the pelicans and other water birds started to swim around the lake in front of me. The sky was getting so bright now that only the Moon was still visible as the planets were lost in the light blue canvas.

Conjunction at Dawn over Tuggerah Lake

Conjunction at Dawn over Tuggerah Lake

Moon, Mercury, Jupiter and Mars Conjunction at Dawn

Moon, Mercury, Jupiter and Mars Conjunction at Dawn

I called it quits at 6:10am and rushed off to catch the train to head to work – happy from a very productive hour with my camera and delighted with what sat on my compact flash card.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed viewing my photos as much as I enjoyed capturing them.

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51 responses to “Photos of the Moon, Jupiter, Mercury & Mars Conjunction”

  1. […] Photos of the Moon, Mercury, Jupiter and Mars Conjunction from the 23rd […]

  2. Gabriel Hauber says:

    Beautiful photos. What a picturesque location!

  3. Gabriel Hauber says:

    By the way, what software do you use for this website (specifically the blog and the galleries?)

  4. Mike Salway says:

    @Brian – thanks very much!

    @Gabriel – thanks! It’s a beautiful spot. I shot the 2007 total lunar eclipse from that location so it holds a special memory for me.

    I use WordPress for the site and Coppermine for the gallery.
    This post when my blog was first launched explains a bit more:
    http://www.mikesalway.com.au/2008/10/20/mikesalway-blog-gallery-site-is-launched

    Thanks

  5. Robert Tulip says:

    Just beautiful Mike. I had to climb on a ladder on my roof to see this conjunction yesterday morning as my view to the east is obscured. Thanks for the great photos. I put a map of the planet paths at http://www.bautforum.com/astronomical-observing-equipment-accessories/82023-2009-planet-calendar.html

  6. Mike Salway says:

    Thanks Robert! I’m glad you got to see it. Unfortunately I was clouded out for this mornings planet trio.

  7. Scott Savage says:

    Great work Mike! I might even buy one on RedBubble!

  8. Steve Webber says:

    Beautiful pics. Enjoyed your running narrative as well. I love those magic hours too.

  9. Brannen Hough says:

    Ummm… I’m no expert, but I don’t think that can be Mercury in the photo. The sun hasn’t even risen yet, and AFAIK you can’t separate Mercury from the sun with a crowbar. Maybe Venus?

  10. galaxysong says:

    Another superb & magical photo, I have come here again from the APOD site which I look at most nights.. and am becoming a fan of your website too. I am someone who cannot get up early so I appreciate your efforts to capture and share these amazing sights!

  11. Mike Salway says:

    @Scott – Thanks for your comment

    @Steve – Thanks! I just love early morning photography. It’s a shame it’s usually cut short due to having to go to work :)

    @Brannen – I can assure you it’s definitely Mercury. Mercury can reach over 20deg in altitude before the sun rises. Mercury was only 15deg altitude at the time of capture here. Venus is currently in the Western sky at sunset.

    @galaxysong – Many thanks for your comment. It inspires me to do more!

  12. Richard says:

    Absolutely beautiful! You’re an artist! I also have an interest in astronomy, though haven’t ventured into photography yet. I was in NZ at the time and had forgotten about the conjunction especially after two weeks of being clouded out. Woke that morning at 5:30 to go for a run and was greeted by clear skies to the east and the conjunction. The world seemed at peace again. Thanks for the great work you do for the astronomy community.

  13. Fiona says:

    just gorgeous – the light, colour and composition come together beautifully! I’m not an astronomer but I love photography and have a soft spot for the moon so I’m happy :-) Don’t you just love the buzz of it, when you have to race to get the right shots before it all disappears?

  14. sierra donaven says:

    Absolutely awesome. I am truly in awe of our magnificent Universe.

  15. Kristen Jones says:

    When I saw this photo on the astronomy photo of the day today, I said out loud, “wow!”

    NICE job! This is one of the coolest photos I’ve seen! Perfect timing, perfect colors, perfect EVERYTHING!

  16. […] week started with some morning photography of the Moon, Mercury, Jupiter and Mars Conjunction, and got busier from there. My photos have received a great deal of positive feedback throughout […]

  17. aryoo says:

    hey man, Ive used a photo of yours in my weblog. I saw it first in nasa’s website. here is this post of my weblog–>
    http://aaryoo.wordpress.com/2009/02/27/three-planets-and-moon-in-one-shot/ (its in persian)
    I’ll remove it instantly from my weblog if you dont like using that photo in my weblog, just tell me! promise
    thanks in advance

  18. […] saber como termina essa história, vá até o site de Mike Salway para ver a coleção de fotos dessa fantástica […]

  19. aj says:

    wow! thanx, Mike. whenever i manage to get up to watch a ‘special sky show’ that i’ve read about on apod or spaceweather, local skies are too cloudy for me to see. i depend on the good people at apod and spaceweather to provide me with a view of what i missed. i found your pages with the link from spaceweather. and i’ve now bookmarked your site. absolutely beautiful! thank you so so so much for sharing.

  20. ROCA says:

    Excelent job!
    We published a post translating to Portuguese your impressions about the conjunction for the people in Brazil and other Portuguese language countries.

    Mike Salway nos mostra a múltipla conjunção: Lua, Mercúrio, Júpiter e Marte

    http://eternosaprendizes.wordpress.com/2009/02/27/mike-salway-nos-mostra-a-multipla-conjuncao-lua-mercurio-jupiter-e-marte/

    Regards,
    ROCA & EYE

  21. THE GODDESS SWEETPEA says:

    I THINK SOMETHING GOING HAPPEN OUT THERE IN SPACE, SOON OR LATER. THIS IS BEAUITFUL PEICE TO LOOK @.

  22. laurie says:

    Mike.beatiful photo’s! We have not been able to see the sky for smoke here in Vic so very grateful for your photo’s.I have used the lake with the boat in foreground shot as desktop I like it so much! regards laurie

  23. Verdi, Nv USA says:

    Remarkable image. Your work is beyond beautiful , thank you for framing a moment in time.

  24. Mike Salway says:

    Thanks everyone for taking the time to comment. Sorry it’s taken me a while to reply, it’s been a busy few days.

    @Richard – thanks for your comment. I bet is was a lovely sight while you were jogging.

    @Fiona – thanks! And yes, it’s quite an adrenalin rush when you’re frantically trying to take some pictures before the light changes. It can be over in an instant! I was literally running along the shoreline of the lake LOL

    @Sierra – Many thanks! Our skies can throw up some beautiful, inspirational sights.

    @Kristen – Thanks, i’m glad my photo can have that effect on people.

    @aryoo – thanks. I can’t read your blog but thanks all the same :)

    @aj – Thanks for your feedback. Spaceweather is an excellent resource and tool for getting people out and looking at the night sky.

    @ROCA – Many thanks for the link.

    @Goddess – I don’t know what’s going to happen but thanks all the same :)

    @Laurie – Thanks for your feedback. It’s my desktop background also! Hope the fires aren’t close to you.

    @Verdi – thanks very much, I just love photography like this and i’m happy to be able to share it with people who enjoy it so much.

    Thanks again everyone.

  25. Steve Morris says:

    You are doing a truly wonderful job here. The pink sunrise with the conjunction is one of the most beautiful images I have ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot of pictures!! Many thanks for the ‘Making of …’ – it’s thrilling to see what you get up to for these shots.
    Best regards,
    Steve.

  26. Church Lady says:

    ON the evening of Feb 26 here in LA, we observed the moon with one star (planet) just to the right of moon. The sky was too cloudy to see more. Would that still have been Mercury? It looked a lot like your beautiful photo (but without the bottom two planets).

  27. […] When the Moon rose in predawn skies on February 23rd, it sported a sunlit crescent. It also offered early morning risers a tantalizing view of earthshine, the dark portion of the lunar disk illuminated by sunlight […]

  28. caitlin says:

    this is so alsome

  29. saipavan says:

    hi,
    i really so much happy by seeing those pictures.so my self i decided to day onwords i will be share every thing what ever new things in astrology.this is my mail id:saipavan.voleti@gmail.com touch with me. Friends inform to me also any great things happen in the universe.

    yours…
    saipavan

  30. dave UK says:

    fascinating picture and very beautiful too. I had no idea that this was possible to take pictures of planets like this. after seeing this pic on APOD I just had to check out your site. now it’s in my favourites. great job!

  31. Mike White says:

    I stumbled across your apod image today and followed the link here…boy, am I glad I did! What fantastic shots Mike! They certainly put my own amateurish attempts to image this conjunction to shame. Thanks for sharing the ISO and aperture settings too – gives me some pointers on where I should start.

  32. upendra says:

    i want to every think about our univers. so plz can u provide me the information.

  33. Just Me says:

    Absolutely majestic. Wonderful, wonderful photos.

  34. Martyn Lewis says:

    Fantastic collection of photos you are very lucky to have seen such a thing let alone capture it. TIP TOP

    M Lewis uk

  35. derrick says:

    damn man these are sooo beautiful!!!! my girlfriend told me that she heard that mars is supposed to be as big as the moon right now but cant see either of em, oh well you have a beautiful day and lovely night, keep up the awesome work and i do too so love to take walks n hikes in the beautiful fresh dreamy mornings ahhh :)

  36. […] saber como termina essa história, vá até o site de Mike Salway para ver a coleção de fotos dessa fantástica conjunção. Visão noturna da conjunção por Mike […]

  37. CJ says:

    I came across your prints looking for a picture of the Crescent Moon and a bright star that almost sits at the bottom point of the moon here in Southeast Texas. I love your pictures but still haven’t found the picture I was looking for. I will keep watching your website for more beautiful pics. We will have a traditional Blue Moon this December 31st. I hope it is clear here so I can take pics.
    Have a wonderful, blessed holiday.

  38. […] the year. I had a goal to have a photo featured on APOD, which I achieved in February 2009 with my Moon, Jupiter, Mercury and Mars Conjunction image. I wanted to enter more Karate tournaments (and place well!) which I did achieve by the end […]

  39. […] Moon rose in predawn skies with early morning risers a tantalizing view of earthshine, the dark portion of the lunar disk illuminated by sunlight […]

  40. […] Big Day as my Conjunction Photo makes APOD The week started with some morning photography of the Moon, Mercury, Jupiter and Mars Conjunction, and got busier from there. My photos have received a great deal of positive feedback throughout […]

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