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.
This morning, the Perseid meteor shower preformed really well even with present of nearly full Moon. The observations were made near Castaic Lake at elevation of ~2500 feet (760 meter).
The weather cooperated in the last minute. There were clouds in the Los Angeles area, however, about 60 miles north, the clouds were non existence and the sky was clear. The temperature was cold compare to the summer daytime. Humidity was less than it was in Los Angeles. The meteor shower was relatively strong and did not disappoint.
The Moon was really bright, and effected the observation. The majority of the meteors were very faint, and there were no fire balls.
The average was about 40 meteors an hour. Most of them were observed from the north east side of the sky, however, some were on the south and very few from the west. The peak was between 3 am to 4 am. This is almost third of the amount of meteors compare to last year.
The camera captured 8 meteors. One was bright enough to outshine the brightest stars.
Orion constellation rose in the east majestically declaring the stargazing session end is near.
Venus was present, and Jupiter was covered by the distance mountain tops in the eastern horizon.
The Perseid meteor shower will peak tonight and the morning of August the 12th, and the 13th. This year, the meteor shower will go against the brightness of the nearly Full Moon. Also, the weather for the people who are in south California will be partially cloudy to heavily cloudy with thunderstorms.
I have been observing the Perseid meteor shower last night the 11th of August, to early morning of the 12th, a day before the peak this year. The location I picked was Rocky peak at Santa Susana Pass, for I had a great experience last year with it and for the fact that a long drive in a cloudy weather is not efficient for time and energy.
Last year the peak was between the 11th to the 12th of August. This year, the peak will be from the 12th, to the 13th of August.
The clouds this year were heavy, and they were coming from the south going north. The temperature was much warmer than last year at the exact time, and the winds at lower altitude were week. However, from the speed of the passing clouds, the upper winds were going at a much faster rate. The low altitude clouds that were around 5~ 6 thousands feet were covering the bright Moon light. There were higher altitude clouds also.
Even with all those factors, I managed to spot two faint meteor shower, and one extremely bright, it wasn’t a fireball for it was fast moving, and smaller, but the luminosity was great, and it was from the radiant center to the east. So the total number was 3 shooting stars. None was capture in camera.
Tonight, at the peak, an observation will be made in a different location, and further away from the light pollution, with the hope of a better weather. Although, light clouds might add up more beauty if a picture was captured of a shooting star that will cast some of its luminosity on the clouds.
If Perseus constellation was difficult to locate, try to look for Cassiopeia constellation, and look under a little under it for the radiant center of the meteor shower. The Pleiades and constellation Taurus can serve as a way point to locate east between the clouds.
Here are two links for last year experience with the Perseid meteor shower:
There are not many other meteor showers that can deliver a good show more than the Perseid meteor showers in my own humble experience. I’ve seen the shower for many years, and the year 2013 was no different.
It was the 1st time I get the chance to view it at one of my favorite sites, Santa Susana pass. The site is not the darkest by any mean, however, it has its own romance.
I drove there after 2 am from where I live, the San Fernando Valley, California. I left my car at the empty parking lot while appreciating the solitude of the place. Most people who get up to view the event or spend the whole night awake with groups for it are in other much darker places than the one I went to.
A look up as I was ascending to my distention rocky peak revealed a rain of shooting stars. They were raining almost twice a minute from the moment I stepped out of my car. I wasn’t disappointed at all.
There were no noises from other nearby human observers as far as I know. I’m sure though the wild life was observing me carefully even at this hour. So I was careful not to step on any snake, frog, or a rabbit.
The Moon sets a couple of hours before midnight, a great condition for when the peak happen after 3 am in the morning until sunrise which is around 6 am at this time of the year, and location I was in.
Cassiopeia constellation was on the north east, and I can see clearly the Pleiades and Taurus on the rise. The peak of the event is near, and surprisingly, the night was dark enough to see a hint of the Milky Way galaxy band.
This year, I had another advantage, I had the SLR camera with me, and since there was no one around, I didn’t have to deal with an angry observer for ruining their night vision with the light coming from the LCD camera screen. So, with all those shooting stars falling down, I knew I will get lucky that night, and capture a meteor on camera.
It wasn’t easy. As if they had a brain of their own, the meteor shower was camera shy. They appeared exactly before taking the image, or right after the camera turn its shutter closed after a long exposure. It was frustrating, yet, I haven’t lost hope.
This didn’t make the experience any less enjoyable though. The shower was extremely strong, and I guessed it is even more beautiful in a darker site.
The shooting stars were falling constantly, it felt as if I was on the roof of a space ship and the meteors were hitting us and gliding across the transparent ceiling (the atmosphere) from its radiant center near the constellation Perseus in the east and converge to the west.
I got a faint one on camera, not a strong one, and for the untrained eye, the image of the meteor can be easily mistaken for an airplane light. I turned the camera toward the west, and I start taking some more, and suddenly, a very bright one light up the sky, while the camera shutter was open. After the brightness went away, I heard the shutter closing.
I did it!!! I finally I got one! I turned the camera off, no more pictures, I have to enjoy it now with my own eyes only, and when I saw the 1st light of dawn, I grabbed my camera and prepared to leave.
When I get back home, I right away posted the image in this site. The post can be viewed here.
It was a beautiful meteor shower. Later I read the world wide reports, and average number of shooting stars per hour wasn’t as strong as every year to my surprise. I got lucky then, because I saw about 2 meteors a minute, which average to 120 meteors an hour.
The summer most prominent meteor shower the Perseids is in mid august, however, a less famous meteor shower is at the end of the month of July, and the start of August. The name of this shower is Southern Delta Aquariids, also known as Delta Aquarids.
Delta Aquarids meteor shower radiant (or its source) is at the constellation Aquarius. The constellation is located in the southern direction in the night sky.
The best time to observe the meteor shower is a couple of hours before Sunrise where the location of the radiant is nearly at its peak from the horizon.
This location of the night sky features a list of other meteor showers that span in different times throughout the year.
The source of this particular meteor shower is believed to be from an old single piece comet that broke a part to be Marsden and Kracht comets. These two comets type is Sun grazing comet. This type of comets usually gets really close to the sun at its lowest point (the perihelion) of its orbit.
There are many other Sun grazing comets that have similar orbital characteristic come from the same source and the majority of them listed as Kreutz group. The space craft SOHO discovered a lot of them.
This summer Delta Aquarids meteor shower featured a moonless night, which is a great condition to observe such event. Sadly, from my location on Earth, this year, the weather didn’t cooperate, and it was cloudy for several nights which prevented the observation.
This wasn’t really bad to the residents of California State, since the state is having the most severe drought in record.
Both nights of the 28th, and the 29th had many clouds from my locations of Santa Susana pass, and Castaic Lake.
The night of 1st, and 2nd of August featured a less frequent meteor shower called Alpha Capricornids. The radiant source of this shower is the constellation Capricornus.
Both constellations the Capricornus and the Aquarius can be located using the relatively bright star Fomalhout, which is an Arabic name that translates literary as the mouth of the whale. (Fom = mouth, al = the, hout = whale)
The observations of those nights were also covered by clouds, and the marine layer, and no meteors were observed.
The next major meteor shower, the Perseids, will be in a full moon night. This meteor shower is strong, and from personal experience, I won’t miss the event even if observation were made in a light polluted area.
The past weekend had a great celestial show of the Perseid Meteor Shower. The number of meteors was in a healthy amount. There was nearly one meteor a minute in the place I stargazed in. There were few fire balls as well, and some of them split in to two as they entered the atmosphere. Few light up the sky for a second or more.
Many shots were taken by the camera in the past two nights, with little luck to show the faint small meteor on the photo, however, in the last three pictures I took before I called it a night, a lucky shot capture a very beautiful bright Fire ball. Enjoy.