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Astrophotographer Grant Petersen Used His Smartphone To Capture Image Of Saturn 'Touching' The Moon

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Last March, Saturn and the moon lined up perfectly in the sky. Not everyone had the chance to have a look at it, but luckily a photographer from South Africa snapped a stunning photo of the conjunction.

Smartphone Photos

Many people missed the conjunction of the moon and Saturn last March, but one photographer from Johannesburg, South Africa did not. Grant Petersen woke up at 4 a.m., two hours before the conjunction, and set up his instruments which included a Dobsonian telescope, his Samsung Galaxy S8, an adapter, and an eyepiece.

When the event happened, Petersen recorded it at 60 frames per second and, using a technique called stacking, merged the lower quality images to create a high quality one. What came out were stunning photos of the conjunction, with Saturn seeming to “touch” the moon’s surface.

According to Petersen, he experienced a lot of excitement and anticipation leading up to the event, especially since Johannesburg experienced some rain until the night before the event. Luckily, the sky cleared up just in time for the conjunction, and in the end he felt like a kid at Christmas.

Big Sky Events

An avid sky watcher and astrophotographer, Petersen uses various means of finding out the next big sky event to capture from his location, from astronomy apps to diaries. Sometimes, the events are comets or asteroids, and at other times it is the International Space Station that he gets to photograph.

In the case of the Saturn-moon conjunction, he became aware of it last January and had planned properly so he can capture it. Sure enough, he had managed to capture images of the event from when Saturn still appeared far from the moon, until it slipped behind the moon just before dawn.

“That was frickin spectacular,” Petersen tweeted along with one of the photos he shared.

The next big event on his calendar is the Nov. 11 transit of Mercury across the sun.

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