Stargazing 2-21-2015

Moon, Venus, Mars – Conjunction | February 21, 2015

The conjuction of the Moon, Venus, and Mars was highly photographed this February on the 20th of the month and on following days the two planets keep shining in the same area of the night sky. However, on Friday, February 21, 2015 the bright Venus did not allow us to see Mars, too faint in the night sky. It appeared as an occultaion of Mars by Venus to the naked eye.

But we have said before that the interested observer does not need expensive equipment or fancy telescopes to see events like this month’s conjuction. From the use of a simple cellphone to the aid of a pair of binoculars, the night watcher could equally enjoy the view all he/she needs is to know where to watch.

So we set up last week to see the conjuction with different devices you may already have.

Moon, Venus, Mars – Conjunction

We looked to the West to see the conjuction and took photos with a simple smartphone, Samsung Galaxy. We tried the various settings included with the phone’s camera with different results.

The same as with the naked eye, Venus did not allow us to see Mars with the smartphone camera, but overall the Moon and Venus below it looked sharp.

We first tried the compact Nikon 3600 camera [really unexpensive and cheaper than most smartphones] by using the video camera mode. We just panned and zoomed up to 3x then up to 4x [out of the 6x maximun] to simulate what the naked eye could see. We shot the Moon, Venus, and Mars to the West.

We got a bonus by looking to the East and capture Jupiter on the same take. The use of any video camera would give similar results.

As with the smartphone camera, we tried different settings of the compact Nikon 3600. The following are unedited full resolution images.

We adjusted the exposure of some of the photos to discover Mars.

All images and video by J.J. Del Mar for Rediscovered Astronomy