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Time-Lapse Video of the Conjunction of Venus, Jupiter, and a Crescent Moon in Washington, DC
|| 12/2/2008 || 3:26 pm || Comments Off on Time-Lapse Video of the Conjunction of Venus, Jupiter, and a Crescent Moon in Washington, DC || ||

Before I took the photographs last night I first recorded this timelapse video. The video consists of hundreds of frames taken exactly two seconds apart using my Canon SD750 digital camera mounted on my tripod. I started recording the video around dusk before I could see Jupiter through the twilight and let it record until the planets were out of frame. The music is Transit of Venus by John Phillip Sousa (1893) and performed by the Virginia Grand Military Band (2003). I’ve used this music before when filming other planets and it’s pretty much become my de-facto music for all my astronomy related videos.


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Astrophotography of the conjunction of the Crescent Moon, Venus, and Jupiter
|| 12/1/2008 || 10:02 pm || Comments Off on Astrophotography of the conjunction of the Crescent Moon, Venus, and Jupiter || ||

This evening I took a series of photographs of what I feel to be one of the most beautiful planetary alignments I’ve seen in my life. Below are the rest of the photographs and tomorrow I’ll post the timelapse video I recorded of the planet’s slow transit through the night sky.

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Timelapse Astrophotography of Venus & Jupiter nearing their conjunction
|| 11/29/2008 || 11:48 am || + Render A Comment || ||

For the last month I’ve been watching the planets Venus and Jupiter inch closer and closer through the night sky. I was first tipped off about the conjunction by the Boston Globe and intend on taking some more photographs on Monday night when they’ll line up with the moon. In the photograph above you can see a plane taking off from Reagan National Airport below the the two planets.


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Short NASA video of the 2004 Transit of Venus
|| 11/23/2008 || 11:24 pm || Comments Off on Short NASA video of the 2004 Transit of Venus || ||

Since I started reading about the Transits of Venus, I’ve found this video on-line in multiple places, but no one has uploaded it to Vimeo yet. This very short video is composed of a sequence of images taken by the Solar X-ray Imager on the GOES satellite as Venus passes between the Earth and the Sun. If you look closely, that small ball at the bottom is Venus. The last Transit of Venus before this was in 1882 and the next transit will take place on June 6th, 2012, where it should cross the upper portion of the Sun.



The Precessional Pentagram of Venus
|| 9/7/2008 || 11:20 pm || Comments Off on The Precessional Pentagram of Venus || ||

Successive inferior conjunctions of Venus occur about 1.6 Earth years apart and
create a pattern of precessing pentagrams, due to a near 13:8 orbital resonance
(the Earth orbits nearly 8 times for every 13 orbits of Venus).

Was reading about Transits of Venus and came across this graphic on Wikipedia. What a beautiful celestial design.


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Staring at the Sun in Stellarium
|| 1/15/2008 || 12:34 pm || Comments Off on Staring at the Sun in Stellarium || ||

Screen grab of Stellarium with the constellations art layer turned on

Two screen grabs below with the azimuthal & equatorial grids turned on:

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Seen in the night sky last week
|| 12/1/2007 || 11:05 pm || Comments Off on Seen in the night sky last week || ||

Two weeks ago I finished reading “Fated Sky” by Benson Bobrick. The book is a historical overview of prominent astrologers thoughout history like Ptolemy, Dee, Brahe, and Sibley (to name but a few). I am quite happy I read it. It’s given me a new appreciation for the ancient art of astrology. It’s also helped to support my recent interest in the night sky.

This last week was quite a busy, productive, and exciting week. Some emotional loss, some financial gain, travel to a new place, research of the old and new and, well, quite a lot of fun.

This week also coincided with the viewing of two planets for the first time. With both my naked eye and using a telescope, I gazed upon Mars & Saturn for the first time.

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An updated Armillary Sphere
|| 9/28/2007 || 8:54 pm || Comments Off on An updated Armillary Sphere || ||

Above is an Armillary Sphere, which was used in ancient times as a celestial calendar. Created prior to the orrey, which is a helio-centric model, the Armillary Sphere allowed it’s user to know where the moon was in relation to the earth. It also featured a zodiac, which I’ve been playing with earlier this year.

To make the above image, I edited the public domain engraving on the Wikipedia page and added a very tiny NASA Blue Marble satellite image of the western hemisphere of the earth. I am probably going to add this image to this website’s splash page, which will knock the total number of visual combinations to over 3,000! I’d like to make a few more first. The U.S. Naval Observatory’s logo gave me some ideas :-).

Since May I’ve been very interested in old maps and the scientific instruments that were used. When I discovered Julius Schiller, who published Coelum Stellatum Christianum (which replaced pagan constellations with biblical and early Christian figures), I began to take quite an interest in celestial cartography.

Around that same time my next door neighbor, thinking that my cartographic expertise had to do with astronomy, offered to let me borrow his children’s telescope. Since then (about mid-August) I’ve been looking to the night sky about once a week; much to my enjoyment. Last week was a highlight because we met on the rooftop and set up the telescope. I showed him and his kids how to use the telescope and was able to show them the moon for the first time. DC has quite a bit of light pollution which makes celestial observances quite tough. The neighborhood watch was even in effect because my housemate said people from the street over knocked on our door warning her about people on the roof.

My favorite night sites are Venus and the Moon, simply because they are the easiest to find. I really want to see Mars, Saturn, or Jupiter. But I’ll just have to wait until the night’s right (or I have ample patience). Ironically, a week after my neighbor brought over the telescope, the new version of Google Earth came out with an integrated celestial viewer.

I have more to write about my nightly observations and research I’ve been dabbling in at a later date.

Related Antique Entries:

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Nikolas Schiller is a second-class American citizen living in America's last colony, Washington, DC. This blog is my on-line repository of what I have created or found on-line since May of 2004. If you have any questions or comments, please contact:

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