Save your retinas: click here for a version on a black background, therefore preserving shadow detail.
On the 13th of August, 2010, the world witnessed a rather unique massing of planets in a very interesting formation. The Moon, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Mercury conspired to create a very special display of nature's grace.
What we have here is an almost triad-like formation with Venus in the middle, the crescent Moon as the bright streaking comet to the left, Mars to the top of Venus and Saturn underneath. Not to forget Mercury, all the way down the bottom by its lonesome self.
I debated whether to post this image or not, as I typically do not try to involve anything other than the natural environment in my landscapes. My initial plan was to drive 2 hours out to a location that I had scouted a couple of months beforehand which had a magnificent view to the west, uninhibited by man-made structures and/or light pollution. Unfortunately, I was unable to make it there and so had to settle for this less than ideal location. Having said that, I still managed to capture some natural landscape in the form of moss-covered stones and rocks in the foreground. So, my conscience is somewhat clear in the knowledge that I did have every intention of going to a location which would be free of Man.
On this night, I managed to lose my footing as a strong gust of wind blew me over while I was squatting down monitoring an earlier exposure. I went for a 20-metre tumble down the hill luckily avoiding any serious injury to myself, and, relieved that I didn't collect my tripod or camera bag on the way down with me.
The centre left portion of the image is the Canberra CBD region of Civic with its disgusting light pollution. The tower in the distance is Telstra Tower situated on Black Mountain. As the crow flies, Telstra Tower is approximately 5 kilometres distant from my perspective. An optical effect (defect) has been created in this long exposure which has rendered the Moon to resemble a comet streaking down from the heavens. I guess I was very lucky to have some very high thin cloud streaking by at the time that allowed me to capture this scene in a unique way.
A formation with the planets this close together will not occur again until 2040.
Shot towards the end of astronomical twilight, on Mount Ainslie, Canberra.Click here for an annotated version.
Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM
30s f/8.0 at 17.0mm iso3200