RED, WHITE & BLUE COSMIC PERSPECTIVE
Photo Credit: Me: CLICK photo for larger view and look below for info.
Here’s another quick shot from last night (March 18, 2014) that anyone can do with a simple manual camera and lens. Last night there was a beautiful red, white & blue, three object conjunction of Mars, Moon and Spica. In this photo they are roughly all 5 degrees apart from each other (the Moon itself is ½ of a degree).
I started by taking photos with intent to capture Mars and Spica. In this photo the Moon was a bright floodlight so I then took a second photo to get the Moon’s features into focus. In this photo you couldn’t even see Mars or Spica. I just took them to photoshop, spent 2 minutes switching out moons and here you go! It’s important when doing this you don’t change your zoom so your Moon remains the correct size and distances between objects remain accurate as well.
Now for a moment, put the beauty of this trio on pause and work for some cosmic perspective. As I took this the Moon was approximately 240,000 miles away from the Earth. If that were a classroom globe the Moon would be a baseball 25-30 feet away. Next comes Mars; we reach opposition with Mars on April 8 so as of right now it’s roughly 60 million miles away (yes that’s just to our next planet when it’s almost at its closest point to us). Finally is the blue supergiant star, Spica. The 15th brightest star in the night sky blows the other two distances away with a massive distance of 260 light years away (keeping in mind a light year is about 5.9 trillion miles). When mars isn’t around as a guide you can find Spica by following the arc of the Big Dipper’s handle to Arcturus then straight on through driving the “spike to Spica.”