Venus and Mars conjunction, with halos – February 21th, 2015

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After a lovely sunny day, I’ve traveled together with my wife a few miles south of our home, to hopefully catch a view of the Venus-Mars-Moon conjunction. We’ve installed our equipment in a field, and waited for the sunset.

At first, we thought that the cirrus front rolling in would ruin our view of the conjunction, but eventually, the spaces between the clouds allowed for some photographs to be acquired.The following two shots, made by my wife, show the entire conjunction, with the Moon included.

 Venus and Mars 50mm

Venus and Mars 100mm

Not little was our surprise when we saw in the pictures an elliptical halo around Venus. During recent years, I did see coronas around Venus, and small halos, but never an elliptical halo.

The following image shows the halos around Venus and Mars in a High Dynamic Range image, made out of three frames with different exposures. Notice the colors.

Venus haloI’ve switched afterwards to Jupiter and Sirius, and found them both surrounded by the same type of elongated halos. This added quite a bit to the show, despite the phenomenon being very hard to see with the naked eye; only around Venus the halo was clear, but small.

Planet halosMy shots were done with the TS 65mm APO Refractor at 420mm focal length and Canon 550D at ISO 800, while my wife used 50mm and 100mm lenses with a Canon 550D.

A combined effort:

halosOf course, the Moon had also a sort of halo, which was rather hard to image with the 65mm refractor. 15 frames with exposures from 8 seconds to 1/320s were combined into the following HDR images, showing a blue aura around the lunar crescent:

HDR Halo MoonAnd an enhanced version of the above, with just a little more saturation to better discern the colors:

HDR Halo Moon enhanced


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