Photographer of planets, defender of the CBC

The call went out from Heather Hiscox, a CBC morning news host, asking for people to photograph the Venus-Jupiter conjunction that was occurring the evening of March 13, 2012. Being an eager fan of the CBC, and an amateur shutterbug, I decided to borrow a tripod from work and take it home to take pictures of the conjunction and, if anything decent came from it, send them in. I sent in 3, and apparently one did air, but I missed the 7:55 broadcast because I was busy getting my kids and car ready for a trip to the ROM (another adventure and blog post in and of itself). I am trying to track down a copy of the broadcast, but in the meantime, here’s my favorite picture from that night (click for the larger copy, you can barely make out Venus below, let alone Jupiter):

It was a fun time all around. I took the photo on my driveway, using the old family Nikon D40. My strategy was to take a few dozen photographs every 15 minutes for an hour, the logic being that I knew very few would turn out great due to the general difficulty of astrophotography (I had to manually focus each picture), and that the backlight from the sun setting would be an unpredictable factor in the long-exposure photograph. My son came out with me in his pajamas and was so excited that he could locate and identify two planets “That’s Venus, dad! It has sulfuric acid clouds! And that’s Jupiter! It’s the king of the planets and has a great red spot!”.