I took these pictures over the space of twelve days in May, 2004. Venus, Saturn and Mars were close together in the evening sky, with their relative positions changing rapidly. Jupiter was also visible, but not close to the other three.
Venus had been closer to Mars but was now hurtling towards an appointment with the Sun on the 8th of June. It passed behind the Moon at noon on the 21st, but it was cloudy so I missed it. I probably wouldn't have been able to see it anyway, what with it being broad daylight.
All three pictures were taken with an SLR and 50mm lens, with Fuji 400ASA film. The first was a long exposure with the camera piggy-backed on my telescope (see how some stars are visible). The other two were with the camera on an ordinary tripod, with exposures of no more than 25 seconds to avoid the planets being trailed. Note that the pictures have also been cropped and resized, so the scale isn't very consistent.
In each case I took several photographs with different exposure times. I found that prints from the shorter exposures came out better, with the best contrast between the planets and the sky, while the longer exposures had less grain and were better once the brightness levels had been adjusted in Photoshop Elements. I got the lab to do a CD direct from the negatives when developing them, which gives better picture quality than scanning prints.
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