A heavenly companion

By January 22, 2013Moon, Photos

Picture: Waxing gibbous moon and companion.

Image: Waxing gibbous moon and companion

Yesterday evening I stepped outside our kitchen door, and what to my wandering eye should appear, but the moon hanging high in the sky. The light of a brilliant star shone nearby. Having taken an astronomy class back in college, I knew by the brightness of this heavenly companion it was more likely a planet rather than a star. Without any expectation of figuring out what the companion was, I decided it was at least worth taking a photo of these two celestial bodies in close proximity to one another.

I proceeded to grab my tripod, my new Nikon D800 camera, and my 500mm f/4 lens. I then switched my camera to DX mode, thereby rendering the effective focal length at about 750mm.

Image: Waxing gibbous moon and companion Needless to say, I was pretty well surprised when I imported the few frames into Lightroom, and looked at 100%. There before me wasn’t just a star, but the easily identifiable striped atmosphere of our solar system’s resident gas giant planet, Jupiter. Not only that, I was able to make out clearly two of Jupiter’s brightest moons.

Now if I can just photograph a UFO with the same resolution and clarity….

Edit: And here by special request is a 100% view of the lunar surface:

Image: Waxing gibbous moon and companion

Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • I knew it was visible near the moon yesterday, but that kind of detail is incredible! Nice shot!

  • David says:

    Impressive resolution. Nice catch Gary. Love your work.

  • I was impressed enough with the shot of Jupiter by our moon…but then to see Jupiter so clearly with two of its moons…WOW!

  • John says:

    Holy crapoly – lol – definitely some amazing resolution on that beast! Nice job. For the record I would have been happy with just the moon shot, but the two moons of Jupiter!? Nice job.

  • Alan Galart says:

    Very impressive! love this!

  • All 4 moons of Jupiter’s brightest moons were visible… Easily seen in binoculars. I got a timelapse of Jupiter and the moon being “close neighbors” over about an hours worth of time. While it’s definitely possible to get an exposure that includes Jupiter’s moons, our moon becomes a bright blown-out blob.

    Be careful or you might get hooked taking moon images! Heck I even tried to capture the Moon and Jupiter rising over an observatory – but knew that it was extremely unlikely to work since the moon rose just after 1 pm in the daytime.

    All the best!

  • Cool, Gary! I saw that while out shooting in the Central Valley yesterday evening and spending a lot of time looking up. I figured it was Jupiter, but thanks for confirming. (I only had 400mm, so no Jovian planets visible in my photograph.)


  • Larry Eiss says:

    WOW! Talk about a great ad for the D800! What an awesome piece of luck that was. I am really amazed how much is visible. How about posting a 100% crop of an interesting part of the lunar surface near one edge? I’d love to see that.

  • Larry Eiss says:

    Thanks for the nice hunk-o-moon edge. I appreciate you taking the time.

  • Greg Russell says:

    Cool! I saw this from Death Valley the other night. I knew it must be a planet but didn’t know which one.

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