Well done to AC members for braving the bitterly cold Sunday morning weather in persuit of an early start for the planetary conjunction. Two observatories were in operation throughout the night making use of the clear sky conditions. Rising at 0412 from the AC a thin band of cloud on the SE horizon delayed observations briefly. By 0450 the pair of planets commanded the view well above the clouds and gave both members and visitors a well earned spectacle. Even by eye the pair were easily discernable as a bright pair of objects in the, now clear, sky.

Sky conditions were fairly favourable but the freezing moisture in the air put a limit of the observable detail. Jupiter , the upper planet of the two, appeared with two pairs of its moons appearing like quotation marks in the plane of their parent planet.

Mars, though the fainter of the two, showed its distincive red colouration both visually and especially when imaged.

As a brief diversion, visitors requested a view of the 67% moon in the 16",  a tour and discussion of the surface features ensued using a camera and large screen display.

Next on the agenda was an opportunity to observe Mercury ahead of a rapidly brightening sky. Again, a thin bank of cloud threatened to spoil the early appearance above our 3 degree horizon. Success, Mercury appeared alone at nearly 4 degrees elevation just above the thin cloud. Inspite of looking like a small coloured disc due to a thicker atmosphere at this low altitude, Mercury was a instant hit for visitors.

A long shot observation was of Saturn just after Mercury. The observing team were beaten , understandably, by a bright pre-dawn sky, no matter , main observing objectives done.

Team dispersed at 0846 for a well earned breakfast and bed.

See below for a sample of images taken- hope for more to follow.

Jupiter, Mars, Mercury composite. Dawn at the AC. Meade 16", NEX5R camera.