December 3rd, 2008
If your skies were clear and you happened to look southeast Monday evening soon after sunset, here’s what you might have seen:
The bright crescent is the Moon, the brighter “star” is Venus and the dimmer dot is Jupiter, here in a rare visible close conjunction (a church in my neighborhood is in the foreground). In reality, the two planets were somewhat more similar in appearance than this image suggests, but Jupiter must have been just barely bright enough to trigger the iPhone’s CCD. I remember reading an article about backyard digital astrophotography in a science magazine 20-plus years ago; now I have a device in my pocket that can pull it off, albeit only with the most brilliant objects in the sky. Another detail — when you blow the image up, you can kind of make out the fact that Venus is showing a crescent phase, just as the Moon is. Astronomy is way cool.