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Posted at 01:00 PM ET, 06/06/2011

A Memorial Day sunrise

A Memorial Day sunrise at the Marine Corps Memorial, May 30, 2011.
Back on May 12, I took a trip to the Mall to photograph the four planets clustering in the eastern sky. On that day, high-level clouds spoiled the planet photo shoot but the sunrise was OK. I promised in my post to try again on May 30, when the four planets aligned with the crescent moon. Very early on Memorial Day, May 30, I was back out with my camera and this time the sky was clear but I found Washington’s sky glow (light pollution) made viewing the planets difficult. Only two of the four planets were visible with the crescent moon. Once again the sunrise salvaged the photo trip.

Keep reading to see the planet photos at dawn and another sunrise shot.

A Memorial Day sunrise photographed at the Netherlands Carillon, May 30, 2011.

I think I learned two lessons in my effort to photograph the planets this past May. The first lesson is that the immediate Washington area has too much light pollution to be optimal for star and planet gazing. I actually already knew this but I hoped the four planets would be bright enough to be visible on the eastern horizon.

The second lesson I learned is that photographing the stars and planets can be a bit more challenging than photographing a weather event. That is more a reflection on my camera gear and the sky conditions around Washington, and not the subject matter in the sky. There are filters and lenses that help with photographing the heavens. I think going forward I’ll continue to shoot eclipses, but I may draw the line on planet photography, at least within the confines of the Beltway.

Dawn on Memorial Day with Jupiter visible above, and to the right of the crescent moon, May 30, 2011. Venus was barely visible below, and to the left of the moon, but it does not show well on this low-resolution photo. Mars and Mercury were obscured by Washington’s sky glow.

By  |  01:00 PM ET, 06/06/2011

Categories:  Photography, Latest, Space

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