Today January 30th 2016 was the morning where five planets alignments occurred. The Planets Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Mars, and Jupiter.
Here is the same photo where the Planets and the Moon are annotated.
Yes, there were clouds, how ever, this is relatively a clear night compare to the rest of the month night. The weather forecast predict a storm coming Sunday to the southern California area. which is the next day. This make this Saturday morning the period of the calm before the storm.
The temperature was around the lower 50s degree F. (around 10 degree Celsius.) The upper wind direction were from west to east. The winds near the ground were blowing from the East. The humidity was high.
Here is a close up look of the planets Mercury and Venus in the same picture frame over the San Fernando Valley:
As the Sunrise moment was approaching, I observed the marine layer over both the Simi Valley and the San Fernando Valley. The Earth shadow casting on the pink background sky was beautiful as always. It never gets old.
Soon after at this time of the day at 6:52 am in local time, the Sun rose from the east another day.
I spend another 2 hours around the peak and observed the changed of the marine layer as it flow over both valleys and between hills tops.
Here is the north view from Rocky peak. Which show Oat Mountain and its many Radio towers.
In the early morning hours of October the 26th, the planets Jupiter, Venus, and mars aligned toward the direction of the eastern horizon and produce a beautiful triple planet conjunction show.
Followed later before Sunrise, the planet Mercury will join the morning planetary alignment
Here is a noted version of preview image:
The observation took place at Santa Susana pass, between the local two valleys. The weather condition didn’t prevent this night sky observation even though the valley been having cloudy nights during this month.
Orion constellation was at a good altitude above the southern horizon followed by Canis Major constellation.
The temperature was great, It was in the low 60s F or higher 50s F (17~13 C degree)with light winds.
There were few shooting stars passed by. The most significant observed that morning were slicing the big dipper area coming from south to the Northern horizon. There was one caught on an image while photographing the conjunction of the three planets.
The shooting star is most likely from the Orionids meteor shower that is still active.
Orion was covered by passing clouds from time to time.
At this point of the night he Moon was reaching the western Horizon.
The Pleiades were stunning as usual with Aldebaran following it. At this point of the night, Mercury was near rising, I had to take a couple more pictures of the triple conjunction and obseved the Moon set on the western horizon.
The Big Dipper was up high with it’s pattern of this time of the year and night.
Finally, Mercury is in the same frame image as the other planets.
Here is the noted version below:
The show of the night ended with the arrival of the most relevant start to our life, the Sun.
On July the 12, the US National Weather Service Los Angeles/Oxnard issued a weather prediction of a surge of monsoonal moisture that will be present in Southern California for the coming three days. People didn’t expect to see lots of clouds in July, even if this is expected by the metrologies.
In this time of the year, it is expected for mid July to have short thunderstorms days around the mountain region, which happened on the 13th/14th and reached the suburban area too.
From Los Angeles and Ventura counties perspective, the weather had following consequences on sky observation. The Full moon nights rose between partial clouds, or haze. After, on the 13th of July from Santa Clarita, the moon rose in a mostly clear night sky, with few clouds which made a spectacular view.
The 14th was nearly overcast, which prevent observation of the Moon, and the passing of the International Space Station.
The 15th had partially cloudy nights. The clouds direction was from east to west from Santa Susana pass and the winds were blowing from the San Fernando Valley to Simi Valley for most of the night until nearly 5 am, where the clouds start to break up and change direction. The eastern horizon starts to be filled with far away mountain clouds and covered the passing of the ISS which was expected to have a brightness of magnitude -2.9. The space Station could not be resolved.
The clouds start to form in the east noticeably before Sunrise and Venus was covered for most of the time and affected its real magnitude brightness and made it dimmer. The planet Mercury couldn’t be resolved until later when it hit a higher altitude. The Sunrise time was very near, and the sky was already bright.
The wind start to blow from the south, and according to the US National Weather Service Los Angeles data that was taken from the measurement of Bob Hope Airport Burbank, it continue to do so for most of the day.
The night of the 16th was overcast, and no observation could have been done during the night.
Comet Ison is a comet full of surprises, and was discovered and observed since September 2012. It was named the Comet of the century for showing a lot of potential according to sources such as NASA and scientific media such as Astronomy and Sky and Telescope magazine, and many blogs and website around the globe.
Many amateur Astronomers with scopes no less than 8 inches (~20 cm) of aperture power got images as early as October. The comet was 1st spotted on June after it disappearing for few months.
The comet didn’t brighten at the same rate as it was expected. Even when it closer to the Sun, and was in the inner part of the solar system as of early October, which is the rocky planets part. It was a small let down. Still, a new comet in the sky is eventful.
Comet Ison was 1st logged in my logbook on November the 2nd 2013. It was early in the morning before Sunrise a couple miles away from the highway that took me away from the city. It wasn’t as cold as I thought it would be, I even didn’t use gloves this time and didn’t go inside the car for a warm break.
The Comet was dim, and I couldn’t see it with the naked eye. However, I took view pictures of the location where I thought the comets would be in the field of view of the frame.
The comet was comfortably 10 degree above the horizon and bright enough to be capture with my camera lens.
I start to go every morning in week days before sunrise to a location near Castaic Lake. The observation of the weekend from the 9th to 11th November morning took place in the Sierra part of California. Then went back to near Castaic Lake and Rocky peak.
The weather wasn’t helpful though, and most of nights were cloudy. Beside, the locations I was observing from had a cloudy eastern horizon normally. Even in a clear morning, there are always few patches of clouds floating.
Most of the nights I spend stargazing and trying to hunt for the Comet end up with observing clouds instead and their behavior in the location I was in. At some night, the light pollution from the city Lancaster which is at the Eastern horizon usually colors the clouds above it in beautiful colors. The colors are not as beautiful as the colors of the Sunrise and Sunset, but it has its own magic.
The planets were bright enough to peak through thin clouds, and this year, in this few months, all five planets that can be observed with the naked eye were present. Venues is relatively high in the sky right after Sunset and Jupiter dominate most of the night, and Mars in the early morning in the Eastern Horizon before Arcturus and Spica. Mercury and Saturn rise up before Sunrise.
The perihelion, the closest distance in which the comet will be to the Sun, and where the observation of the Comet is most difficult from the ground due the brightness of the Sun, was scheduled to be on the 28th of November – 2013. This happens to be on the American holiday day Thanksgiving.
At Thanksgiving Day, around Noon, the comet was pronounced dead by NASA officials and many media because the space NASA/ESA spacecraft SOHO could not see after it passes.
The next day, the Comet brightens up in the other side, and shining again, dimmer, but still shining. The tail is ejecting heavy material and lack of the light particles in the tail, according to early reports from sources such as NASA, and Astronomy magazine, and news media.
Comet Ison is full of curveballs, and I can’t wait to observe its comeback from the perihelion in the next few weeks if it can survive that long, and I can’t wait for the 26th when the comet closest approach to Earth given it survived..
The Comet trajectory will make the observation accessible at dawn toward the Eastern horizon even after passing the perihelion.
More hunting time spend on the comet, this morning it should be right under the star Spica. Meanwhile, few observation of the full moon fading behind the hills on the western horizon. Mercury later on shined brightly at the brightness of dawn between pink clouds.
The images are included are of Mercury, the Moon, and finally for the log purposes, a picture of the comet Ison very dim between clouds.
This morning the observations of the comets and the planets at dawn took place at Santa Susana pass. The comet is near the Sun now, so it rises within close time window. There for, no need to drive to remote place for dark sky since the glare of the Sun will be out anyway.
The pass weather was a bit cold with wind blowing from the east, making wind tunnels between rock formations. The clouds were low near the horizon. I am not sure what the altitude of the clouds was. So there was no access to the comet.
At some part of the pass, where the rock formation covers the light pollution from both valleys, the Simi from the west and San Fernando from the east, bright stars stood clearly and their blue hue is very present from the human figure shape constellation Orion and it’s little companion dog and nearby in contrast the warm color of orange from the Aldebaran. At west, the far clouds near the horizon gave the view of those constellations as if they were flouting on sea of clouds, at this time of the day, the whole time it felt like a good night dream. On the east, the sky starts to give a hint of brightening led by the yellow of Arcturus.
The eastern view had Mars high in the sky near the Moon, beautiful view, while Saturn and Mercury at lower altitude near the horizon. In the other side, Jupiter was shining brightly.
Along with Venus early at twilight, it was a night with all five visible planets and the Moon. A small telescope or binoculars would show Neptune and Uranus too at twilight. All of this made me feel I was surrounded by a lot of old friends, and home.