A time-lapse video of dawn transitioning to sunrise on May 12, 2011. The video has compressed 45 minutes into 30 seconds.

After reading Jason’s post earlier this month about four planets - Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter - clustering on the eastern horizon before sunrise, I tried to capture the celestial show on video. May 11 was described to be one of the best days to view the planet cluster since all four planets would be spaced within 10 degrees of one another. Unfortunately, the morning of May 11 was overcast and I aborted my photo trip. Instead, I decided to try the following morning, May 12, since the planets would still be very close together on the eastern horizon.

Keep reading for the rest of the story and a sunrise photo...

A rather clear sunrise on the Mall, May 12, 2011.

The colors painted on the clouds at dawn were very nice and the sky slowly cleared for a bright sunrise. What I found interesting was that the mid-level clouds were moving in an opposite direction to the low-level clouds. The mid-level clouds, which appear to be altocumulus and altostratus, were moving north-to-south while the low-level cumulus clouds were moving south-to-north. It’s evident watching the time-lapse but it was hard to notice in real-time.

My next goal is to shoot the dawn sky on May 30, when the four planets line up with a beautiful crescent moon. I hope the sky will be perfectly clear on the morning of the 30th, but given the weather lately (and my luck), that seems unlikely.