Planetary alignment and faking it

On 26 May 2013, Jupiter, Venus and Mercury gathered close together in the sky and it looked as though they would set over the Langdales in a triangle that just begged to be caught on camera.

I went out to rehearse the previous evening and it looked spectacular.  Sunset over the Langdale skyline from the outskirts of Kendal can make for a stunning vista.  Here are the three planets in not-quite-perfect alignment, with a multiple exposure shot to give an idea of their setting trajectories:

Jupiter, Venus, Mercury over the Langdales

25th May 2013: Jupiter, Venus, Mercury over the Langdales.
That’s Jupiter on the left, Mercury at the top, Venus over Pavey Ark

Jupiter looks to be on a collision course with the edge of Harrison Stickle, and about an hour later it set exactly as  expected.  Multiple exposure again:

Jupiter setting behind Harrison Stickle

25th May: Jupiter setting behind Harrison Stickle

On the 26th, it was cloudy.  Oh well, that’s life in Cumbria.  Time to get creative, so here’s a fully stacked version of all the shots, so that we can see the exact configuration of the three planets:

Fifteen or so layers on a cloudy evening, catching planets through the moving gaps in the clouds.

26th May: Fifteen or so layers on a cloudy evening, catching planets through the moving gaps in the clouds.

So what would we have seen if not for the cloud?  Well, using the positions of the planets on the cloudy evening shots, I can move the dots from the rehearsal night and show what was happening behind the clouds:

26th May 2013: "What might have been" Jupiter (left), Venus (right) and Mercury (top) setting over the Langdales.

26th May 2013: “What might have been”
Jupiter (left), Venus (right) and Mercury (top) setting over the Langdales.

Had the clouds not moved in, this would surely have become one of my favourite photos.  In truth, however, it’s nothing but a fake.  Please don’t tell!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s