Pictures of the Smiley Face Conjunction

Wow, well last night certainly proved to be more stressful than was expected! After a beautiful and clear practise run on Sunday night, it was supposed to be crystal clear on Monday night too but high cloud and then thick low cloud came in during Monday afternoon which threatened to spoil the whole event for me.

News of the rare celestial alignment had made it to all the media outlets and it got quite a bit of coverage yesterday. I gave a short interview for the local Star 104.5FM radio station, and I saw it mentioned on, and the TV news as well.

It did clear for me, just! Here’s the first of the many images I captured.

Smiley Face Conjunction at Sunset

Smiley Face Conjunction at Sunset

The picture above is available for purchase – just get in touch!

POST EVENT UPDATE: The night turned out to be very productive. This post (and the images) were linked on a number of blogs, and also Spaceweather, which helped to kick-start a busy couple of days. It culminated in being featured on NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) on Friday, which also included being submitted on (almost 1000 diggs at time of writing).

I decided to try somewhere different last night, not wanting to end up with the same type of shots from the night before with the same foreground. So I stopped at Green Point at a lovely reserve on the edge of Brisbane Water.

Some thick cloud rolled in and actually started raining on me for a short while, but after it cleared the clouds provided a lovely backdrop for some beautiful landscapes.

I discovered that our Solar System celebrates “Movember” as well, as can be seen in the pic below – with the face having a beard and hair :)

Our Solar System Celebrates Movember

Our Solar System Celebrates Movember

I was being eaten alive by mosquitoes, but while the conjunction was still visible I put up with it. I grabbed some reflection shots off the water before the wind picked up ruined the mirror-like surface of the water.

Reflections of the Smiley Face

Reflections of the Smiley Face

Smiley Face Reflections

Smiley Face Reflections

As the night wore on, longer exposures were needed to still capture the foreground and as a result the smiling mouth turned into an open/gasping mouth.

Smiley Face over Brisbane Water (HDR)

Smiley Face over Brisbane Water (HDR)

Smiley Face Conjunction - Jupiter, Venus and the Moon

Smiley Face Conjunction – Jupiter, Venus and the Moon

Smiley Face Conjunction - Jupiter, Venus and the Moon

Smiley Face Conjunction – Jupiter, Venus and the Moon

By about 9pm, clouds had covered the whole scene and it was time to packup and head home. I was up late processing the images and I’m feeling very gritty today but these alignments don’t happen often so I needed to make the most of it while I could!

This last image is a panorama of 6 images (with quite a bit of overlap), compiled using Auto Pano Pro. It’s reduced to 2000px wide for the gallery, but the original is almost 6000px wide.

Smiley Face Conjunction Panorama

Smiley Face Conjunction Panorama

After getting rained on for 5 minutes, attacked by mosquitoes, sniffed out by a wet dog who went for a swim just near me, stepping in water on the rocks (cause I left my red light torch at home!), and almost missing the entire thing due to clouds, I’m very happy with how the shots turned out.

Thanks for looking.

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43 responses to “Pictures of the Smiley Face Conjunction”

  1. […] UPDATE 2nd December: Pictures of the Smiley Face Conjunction […]

  2. Wonderful colors. I’m sure the amount of clouds can be annoying, but it added to some great colors in the sunset! GIves a great depth. I love the reflections on the water too!


  3. Mike Salway says:

    Thanks Mike, much appreciated. I agree – while the clouds were frustrating at times, it did add drama to the scene and MADE the sunset colours.
    I tried to get some more reflection shots when the trio were lower in the sky, but by then the wind had whipped up the water and it was impossible to get anything resembling the conjunction.
    Thanks again.

  4. Ian Musgrave says:

    Simply stunning Mike, I too think the colours are amazing. Sometimes cloud can be a bonus

  5. […] the night of the Smiley Face Conjunction, before the sun set and the conjunction was visible, I was able to capture some dramatic sunset […]

  6. JEN says:

    IT WAS SOO NICE OUTSIDE YESTERDAY! IT WOKE ME UP…cause i was walking back home..haha =] IT WAS SMILING AT ME heheh =]

  7. […] how the shots turned out Low res shots are attached. My full report and higher-res images here: Pictures of the Smiley Face Conjunction Thanks for looking. Attached […]

  8. Michael says:

    Thank you for sharing those wonderful pictures, you have such a talent with camera. Those pictures can make into pretty postcards.

  9. Andrew says:

    G’day Mike,
    Had a peek through your website in search of the karate videos. Got somewhat distracted by the fantastic photography. Reckon you could make a decent career out of this. Forget IT mate. Do the photographic thing. See you on the floor at BBMA.

  10. […] când  o ”faţă tristă”, a apărut pe cerul din emisfera sudică. Mai multe poze aici. Tag-uri incluse:aliniere, Jupiter, luna, Venus « Ziua in care zona euro intra […]

  11. David says:

    Congratulations, your photograph is today\’s (December 5) Astronomy Picture of the Day, and deservedly so!

  12. Navneeth says:

    Just saw your image at APOD. It\’s stunning!

  13. Perry Trimble says:

    Very Nice!! Thanks for all your efforts.
    It was overcast here in St. Louis, MO USA, but I’m glad you were able to get the shots and share.


  14. […] mes imatges a la web de l’autor Mike Salway. […]

  15. Chad says:

    Congrats on getting such a fantastic photo of the smiley conjunction event. I saw it on APOD and it’s the picture of a lifetime! Very well done!

  16. Nick Neklioudov says:

    Outstanding picture Mike!!!
    The best I’ve seen from all conjunction pictures!
    Congratulations with your APOD page!

    (aka Flying_Fox – your fellow CloudyNights and IceInSpace member)

  17. […] awed skygazers around planet Earth, astronomer Mike Salway reports taking special pains to record this gorgeous view, braving mosquitos and rain squalls along a soggy shore. His southern hemisphere perspective finds […]

  18. You were Dugg too… lots of good comments here too:


  19. Mike Salway says:

    Thanks heaps for all your nice comments, it’s been quite a busy week already, but culminating in an APOD made it even more special.

    I really appreciate all your feedback and encouraging words.

  20. Mike Salway says:

    For those that don’t know what APOD here is, here’s the link to it:

  21. rose nicolas says:

    thanks for taking this picture of a smile in the sky i really like it even here in the philippines we saw it too at my city here in manila its so beautiful i’ll never forget this it was a great scenery thanks again

  22. Dick Rucker says:

    Beautiful photos, but I don’t understand why, in all but the first shot taken on 1 Dec, the moon appears to be full. How could it be anything but crescent?


  23. william sims says:

    Thanks for the great shot, and even greater tale. It is easy to forget what goes into making great art. I loved the shot so much i started clicking on the links below which led me to your story, and ultimate explanation. It seems to me now that behind every great photo is an even greater picture, often untold. San Diego, Ca.

  24. Carham says:

    Beautiful photograph Mike!!

    Your APOD is my new desktop background… I’m sure it now is for thousands of others as well……hope that inspires you to do more!


  25. Patricia Kitto says:

    Awesome photos and a great blog about getting them, too! I especially like the shot with the hair and beard. Very clever! Congrats for making it to “Astronomy Picture of the Day” which is where I found you. Keep up the good work. Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, USA

  26. […] it’s been a busy week! Starting with my Pictures of the Smiley Face Conjunction post from last week, which was linked on a number of blogs, and also Spaceweather, helped to […]

  27. Margaret says:

    I know it’s long past the event, but I’ve only just got back from Uganda where I was without internet access and so have only now been able to research the extraordinary sight I saw whilst driving across a swamp at dusk in a remote part of Uganda on 1st December. Unfortunately, I was unable to photograph the “smiley face” until much later, but will never forget the sight at dusk. A Ugandan friend sent me a text in great excitement, telling me to go outside and look at it. Everyone realised we were witnessing something unusual. But how unusual is it? How often are the three planets in this conjunction? Thank you for your stunning photos.

  28. Mike Salway says:

    Hi Margaret, thanks very much for your lovely story. What an amazing experience it must have been.

    All the best.

  29. […] Smith from Bintel wanted to run a piece in their latest The Night Sky newsletter about my recent Smiley Face Conjunction image that appeared on APOD. I’ve also used the picture to update the About page […]

  30. […] of the Moon and Planets can be quite special events, as we saw on December 1st 2008 when The Smiley Face Conjunction graced our skies. A conjunction is an alignment or grouping together of 2 or more celestial bodies […]

  31. rupali says:

    hey friends i m sending few pictures hope u would like it.

  32. […] 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 […]

  33. […] 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 […]

  34. […] 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 […]

  35. […] Smiley Face Conjunction from the Southern Hemisphere. This entry was written by Stefan, posted on 26/02/2009 at 21:00, […]

  36. […] Noite passada sentei na cama perguntando-me aonde iria para fotografar esta vista maravilhosa… Perguntava-me se o céu estaria nublado, se o céu estaria limpo, se o céu iria fornecer o mesmo cenário dramático que apresentado para a Smiley Face Conjunction. […]

  37. […] o céu iria fornecer o mesmo cenário dramático que me foi antes apresentado quando fotografei a Smiley Face Conjunction [ conjunção sorriso, Vênus, Júpiter e a Lua, dezembro de 2008 […]

  38. […] Widefield category, a beautiful star trails shot with an observatory in the foreground won, with my Smiley Face Conjunction shot taking out 2nd […]

  39. […] Articolul nu apartine niciunei categorii.                            Cerul le-a zâmbit la propriu câtorva turişti britanici, care au ales să se bucure de iarnă în Australia. O aliniere cosmică foarte rară a planetelor Venus şi Jupiter au ”desenat” pe cer o frumoasă faţă zâmbitoare. Neobişnuitul fenomen, cu Venus ocupând poziţia ochiului stâng şi Jupiter pe cel drept, a apărut duminică seară, între orele 20.00 şi 23.00, ora locală din Australia de vest, informează Daily Mail. Zâmbetul ceresc a fost vizibil cu ochiul liber în Australia. Din cauza curburii Pământului, fenomenul cosmic nu a putut fi observat şi în Europa sau în SUA. Venus şi Jupiter apar una lângă alta din când în când, dar de cele mai multe ori ele nu pot fi observate din cauza apropierii lor de Soare. Ultima oară, o astfel de aliniere cosmică a fost observată acum mai bine de zece ani în aprilie 1998, când  o ”faţă tristă”, a apărut pe cerul din emisfera sudică. Mai multe poze aici. […]

  40. […] by someone this morning who recognised a photo on someone’s flickr stream as a crop of my Smiley Face Conjunction photo. The photo on flickr is called Clouds, and you can clearly see it’s a crop of my […]

  41. Daniel says:

    Absolutely beautiful.

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