Capturing The Great Conjunction

We normally think of the word conjunction as a word which connects clauses or sentences or to coordinates words in the same clause. For example, the words and, but, if are conjunctions. When it comes to astronomy, a conjunction is an alignment of two planets or other celestial objects making them appear to be in the same, or nearly the same, place in the sky. 

Last week, there was a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn not seen for hundreds of years. The event made a lot of news. Cloud cover made it impossible for me to see it, but many people did.  No doubt some took photos, but nothing like what Jason De Freitas did.

Jason is a fine art photographer who has created a lot of unique and experimental works. He lives on the South Coast of New South Wales, Australia. He has been recognized for his analog astrophotography, aerochrome infrared landscapes, and stereoscopic star trails. I never heard of these, but when I visited his website, I saw some really unique things.

His most unique photography ever may have been last week when he captured the International Space Station passing between Jupiter and Saturn during the conjunction. The ISS is orbiting Earth at 4.76 miles per second, which is 17,136 miles per hour. The 39-second video on YouTube will go down in history.

Jason described the project,

Probably the most unique shot I’ve ever taken. I had the incredible luck of figuring out I could see the path of the International Space Station traveling through the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction. After much planning and scrambling I had to drive an hour (quite a short distance in the scheme of things) to align the shot perfectly and somehow everything on the night worked out. Beyond thrilled with this one. Taken on the 17th of December, 2020 at precisely 21:53:05 for 10 seconds. Location: Jellore Lookout, Mittagong NSW, Australia.

For photography buffs, the equipment he used included Pentax 67 Takumar 600mm f/4 Fujifilm Provia 100f Equatorial Mount: Skywatcher NEQ6 Digital gear: Nikon D750. 

I found the 17 reader comments about Jason’s project in DIY Photography as interesting as the story itself.
 
“I’m telling my kids it’s Santa”
“As a fellow transit chaser, WOW DUDE, what an amazing shot. I absolutely love the adrenaline of planning out a transit that may take all of 1, 2, 5 seconds with only one chance to nail it. Congrats.”
 
“Dude this is epic. This is one giant fish caught on a very well placed lure.”
 
“Someone did a lot of figuring out to land in the right place at the precise moment!”
 
“Best ever ISS pass during the Conjunction!”
 
“Once in a lifetime. 😮”
 
“Phenomenal capture! Congratulations.”
 
“Great footage – thank you for sharing!”
 
“Coolest shot ever!”
 
“That is so amazing.”
 
“Amazing! Good luck needs a good plan.”
 
“Very nice & amazing results! Thanks for sharing it with us!”
 
“Nice!”
 
“Awesome!”
 
“Awesome ! Unfortunately the skies in my area were completely overcast. :-(“
 
“Very cool😀”
 
“SEI un GENIO !!!!”
The Italian comment translates to “You are a genius”
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