juvenile great horned owls and venus in background at sunset / contra costa county CA
Venus shines bright in the time just before the light of dawn to the south east, coming within 1 degree of faint Mars which lies far from us in its orbit, appearing much further away, while Jupiter hangs above them. The moon draws closer to the triad as it fades the next few days …
for venus and jupiter this time around the sun
tonight at under 1/2 degree separation from our vantage on earth
the sun set leaving an orange, then pink-tinted sky, with the nearly full moon low in the east
the wind was still and the heat from the day was still rising from the grass-covered hills
the coyotes howled across the valleys as twilight melted away the last light
and the owls at the top of the hill made an appearance together, hooting back and forth
between themselves and sometimes the featherless hooter below
the crickets in the background sang loudly, now that the winds had nothing to say
and as the sky darkened, the lights of the sky and the city glowed
above and below Mount Tamalpais
as the fog crept from the sea into the valleys below it all
venus and jupiter are now one day away from appearing less than 1 degree apart in the sky looking to the west just after sunset (occurs on tuesday june 30th) – and wednesday is a full moon. tonight just to the right of the moon, just above scorpio (to the south after dusk) is saturn as well. the bright star antares (17th brightest in the sky), part of the scorpio constellation, glows red compared to the other stars – which helps locate the constellation (almost due south after sunset). tomorrow night (june 30) saturn will remain above scorpio but well right of the moon.
the owls were moving around early tonight and very active, and their eyes seem to shine with vigor in the dim evening light. a coyote popped it’s head up on the other side of a young bull this evening, thinking it was unseen, sending the young bull in a run right towards and past me (which was a little intense). a few moments later the coyote’s head popped up again to look at me, as if it was checking in to see how its joke worked out.
good one coyote.
happy solstice, longest day of the year! literally, not figuratively – as in my mind i’ve had MUCH longer days this year.
it was a beautiful night up in the hills, soft light, light winds, and the smell of tar weed pervading the air. as darkness crept in the crickets provided a soundtrack to my wander. venus and jupiter grow closer still, and in the pictures below from tonight you can see the moon on the left, the star regulus in the constellation leo faintly visible next to the right, followed by the planets jupiter and venus. the mountain in the distance is mt tamalpais. quite a sight.
one from last night …
The countdown is on for the end of June when Jupiter and Venus come within about 1 degree of each during their conjuction! Look outside after dusk to the West to see them. Venus appears larger and brighter on the right. Not shown in the photo is Regulus, part of the Leo constellation – it can be seen to the left of Jupiter, almost forming a line. The next few nights will provide us with great views with the moon appearing closer to the two planets. Get out and look!
From left to right: Mt Tam, Jupiter, Venus, waxing Moon
some pictures from a few weeks ago that i am late to post, taken with my mobile phone – great-horned owls and venus
contra costa county ca
same night, another great-horned owl with venus and mount tam in background with city lights
On Friday night, Venus, the waxing crescent Moon and Mars came together in a beautiful alignment. The norCal skies allowed unobstructed viewing with 60 degree evening temps and no wind. Mars appears very faint in between Venus and the Moon, but during early twilight it was difficult to see Mars. The purple sky was a striking backdrop. The three were all within 2 degrees of each other – the next night, Venus and Mars were even closer together and in conjunction (less than 1/2 a degree apart).
One of the last shots of the evening, the haze of some fog / cloud cover was encroaching and added an even more surreal effect …
MISSED SHOT OF THE EVENING … great-horned owl with backdrop of celestial alignment. Ack!!! I couldn’t get my tripod set up in time!! It’s an image that remains very clear in my mind though. This was the best I got before the owl flew off, just before my tripod was set and camera settings dialed in …
As I was returning from an evening wander, I rounded a corner and started ascending a ridge under a twilight sky that held a bit of vibrant dark blue that was stubbornly unyielding to the engulfing blackness of the night sky. As I looked up, I saw one of the owls perched with the planet Venus as a backdrop. I think they are getting used to me – it eventually let me pass by at a distance of no more than 10 to 15 feet as I continued on my way after snapping some pictures.
The picture below was from a few nights ago, they perch on top of these trees almost every evening after leaving their day roosts. They hoot and coo and squawk to each other there before going out to hunt, or sometimes just sit in silence together. And, at least during this past week, they have been mating there as well – something I’ve gotten to witness twice in the last few nights!
Earlier in the week, Jupiter was right by the almost full moon ….