Not the Beehive!

I have a small number of images to post from an outing yesterday, but first, some images from a later outing (because they’re fewer and easier and I’m lazy.) We’ll start with a comparison.

nearly full moon and half Venus at same magnification
That’s the moon on top, seen through many obscuring tree branches because I wasn’t out there after the moon, but I was using it for sharp focus, because what I was out there after was too small and bright to resolve for optimum clarity – that’s the bottom of the pic. It’s Venus, and these were shot back to back at the same magnification, but not the same exposure, because I was after this:

Venus in half-phase at full resolution
That’s at full resolution through the 600mm lens with the not-quite-2x converter. Venus does actually show phases, but the crescents tend to be hard to see because it’s getting close to the sun at those times, and thus often in daylight or twilight. Nonetheless, this is the first I’ve gotten a decent image of the half-phase, and had to play around a lot with exposure to get it – you know how bright Venus is in the sky, so this is considerably less exposure time than the moon itself. 1/125 for the moon, 1/800 for Venus, both at f14, ISO 1600.

Yet those weren’t the primary thing that I was out there after, which is instead this:

Mars within M44 Beehive Cluster, Praesepe, NGC 2632, Cr 189
This is Mars among the stars of M44, also known as the Beehive Cluster, Praesepe, NGC 2632, and Cr 189, because it’s got a rap sheet as long as your arm. In checking out Stellarium the other night I saw that Mars would be right in the middle of this cluster within the constellation of Cancer, and since we had clear skies I had to give it a shot. Right offhand, I don’t know why Mars was as dim as this, appearing only as bright as some of the common stars and not at all like a planet. The stars seen here, however, were pretty dim, only resolved through the long lens largely because of that nearly-full moon lighting up the sky. We’ll see some other examples a little later on.

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