I have always enjoying looking up into the night-time sky, and following the rhythms of our solar system is something I follow daily online.
Lately, I have been keeping my eye on the rare alignment of Jupiter, Venus and Mercury in the west-northwest about 30 minutes after sunset. The next time this will happen, is in 2026.
Being Friday night, I had to go out and try to see this!
The whole week has been hotter than normal for this time of year, and I hoped the cover of night would help.
The dam parking lot had two other cars when I arrived, and as I unpacked, a jogger going downhill, turned and entered the park.
Because of the heat and humidity, I packed my equipped vest into the daypack, and threw it over my shoulder, along with my camera and tripod, and headed into the park.
Heading down the hill, it got darker because of the overhanging trees and leaves, but the light grey colored maintenance road made it easier to follow with the ambient light.
When I got to the opening at the bottom of the dam, and I could see I was a little late in getting there, but I still had time.
I took the steep dirt path through the tall grass to the south-eastern corner area of the lake. The ‘flea and tick season’ phrase kept repeating itself in my head.
I finally reached the dirt road at the top, panting heavily and thinking that I should have brought along a second water bottle, while the jogger I had seen earlier, passed by me, and off into the increasing darkness.
Once setup, I could see that most of the sky was clear, but there was a thin bands of clouds, hovering in the distance, just above the treetops, in the northwest sky, right where my compass was aimed at 300°.
I was a little bummed, but as the 30 minute mark began to approach, I did see a bright spot right where it should be, and not moving. Could this be one of the planets?
I took numerous pictures of the sunset, and rising ‘planet’, and then started to focus my attention on the various fishing boats with lights, motoring silent around the lake.
As one boat crossed in front of me, I heard –
“You can not take his picture. He is in the witness relocation program.”
Followed by chuckles from the boat.
Responding back, with a smiling tone, I said that my camera did not have the resolution, and that they were going to fast.
Little do they know… Tee hee…
I also followed the various airplanes crossing my vision. It did not seem like a very busy night, especially compared to other times I have stood in the boating parking lot, staring up into the night sky on other photography expeditions.
As 9:30 approached, and fending off the mosquitoes was becoming impossible, I packed up, crossing over the rest of the dam, turning sharply to my left, and down the diagonal road.
Walking next to the marshy area, I saw fireflies signaling their presence, and at the bottom, I could see that I was going to need my headlamp, as I started back into the darker section of the road. I had not been here before at night, so I did not know what I might encounter.
When the light flashed on, I was greeted by a thin fog that reflexed back the bright light, making it more difficult to see. I turned the lamp down, be it did not help. Maybe next time, I’ll get the headlamp with multi-colors.
Finally, I reached the brown swinging gate at the top of the trail, and headed into the parking lot, where I threw my gear into the car, and headed home.
Note to Self – Next time, bring two water bottles and bug spray…
After processing several series of images, it seems that I might have ‘caught’ Venus and Jupiter in my captures, with Jupiter being just too faint to see with the naked eye.
We’ll try again in 2026!