Mars and Spica

April 06, 2014

Mars_and_Spica

Photographer: Greg Parker
Summary Authors: Greg Parker; Jim Foster

A persistent period of foul weather this year had prevented me from imaging the night sky for almost two full months. Finally, in late March it was sufficiently clear to do some serious work in my observatory. After shutting down the mini-WASP array I was using for imaging in the constellation of Leo, I stood outside for a moment to take in the southern horizon. I was amazed to see a great photo opportunity in the southeast -- Mars and Spica! Mars reaches opposition on April 8, 2014, at which time it'll shine at a magnitude of -1.5. Spica is classified as a blue giant star. It's the brightest star (1.04 magnitude) in the constellation of Virgo. In a clear moonless sky, this very bright red/blue coupling looked amazing. I ran indoors to grab my camera. The dome of the mini-WASP array observatory is in the foreground. Fortunately, we'll have this spectacular pairing tracking across the southern horizon for the next few weeks. Photo taken on March 23, 2014.

Photo details: Canon 5D MkII camera;  28mm prime lens; ISO 400 ; shutter on "bulb" with an exposure time of around 15 seconds.