Top to bottom: Jupiter, Venus and Mercury (Just above the horizon).
On the evening of the 4th of March the clouds departed as the Sun sank below the Donegal horizon leaving in its wake a stunning alignment of no less than four planets. I headed to the scenic Trusk Lough near Ballybofey, Co. Donegal hoping to experience the spectacle and catch a few photo to share the magic of this cosmic sight with others.
When I arrived at the site it looked as though I would be disappointed once again. The clouds refused to reveal Mercury to me, just as they had done all week. However, I set up and took a few shots of the 2nd and 3rd brightest objects in the night, Venus and Jupiter repectively. Only the Moon can outshine these planets in the night sky. Then, at approximately 19:30, just as Mercury was due to set, the clouds that had positioned themselves low to the west in the early evening shifted. Mercury was revealed. The planet Uranus occupied a patch of sky nearby but the bright twilight glow rendered it invisible to both the naked eye and to my camera. There they were all three planets lined up in the western sky. Jupiter and Venus dominated the scene but Mercury Twinkled and flickered away in in the twilight glow before slowly slipping below the horizon out of view. As Mercury set, I took a minute to soak in the clam atmosphere of the Lough, listening to the water lapping on to the shore and wildlife signing as darkness fell. I packed up my things and headed for home but not before contemplating of the fact that is estimated that only 1% of the Earth’s population as seen Mercury. I also turned my gaze eastward to catch Mars in the act of rising as it has just passed opposition (opposite the Sun in the sky) it would be visible all night.
Image Details: Location: Trusk Lough, Co. Donegal, Ireland.
Time & Date: 19:40 4th March 2012
Equipment: Canon 1000D and Sigma 20mm F1.8 lens
Exposure: 4sec, ISO 400, F1.8 with in camera noise reduction