Monday, October 31, 2011

A Little Astronomical Surprise in Yosemite This Evening...

I'm guessing this is something you haven't seen before, but maybe I don't know how attentive astronomers are to opportunities like this. We were leaving Yosemite Valley this evening, as the sun had set and the light was fading fast. We had run out of things to take pictures of, but made one last stop as we left the valley, at the viewpoint just west of the longest tunnel on Big Oak Flat. It is the last view one has of the valley while driving west. I noticed a light shining between the sheer cliff of El Capitan and the face of Half Dome. The sky still seemed too bright to be seeing stars, but the light didn't move like a plane. I snapped a series of photos at extreme zoom (hence the not-so-great quality of the shots), and realized I was looking at the rise of  Jupiter in the east.
The zoom is at 30x, so if you click on any of the photos you can make out the disk of Jupiter.
If you think I was planning on this because of my incredible astronomical and celestial orientation skills, think again. I just got lucky. It was an interesting moment in a very interesting day.

More pictures of a beautiful fall day in Yosemite tomorrow!
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