Chasing Pleiades

Critique Style Requested: Standard

The photographer is looking for generalized feedback about the aesthetic and technical qualities of their image.


Hello folks. I know I already posted the crescent moon from last week but I really do want some help with this one. This was the first photo I made that evening, about 30 minutes before the photo I originally posted. I know it is not easy to see, but Pleiades is there just below and to the right of the crescent. I did have to work to get the stars to show up as much as they do, and I am ok with that as the camera really did capture them. I went into more detail on how I processed the photo and showed the RAW file and how the stars were there. If anyone is interested in that you can read about it on my blog.

Specific Feedback

My question is the following. After realizing that the camera has some serious light-resolving power, I wanted to try and photograph this conjunction again. However, to the best of my ability, I cannot seem to find a day in the future when this conjunction will occur again. I know the Pleiades is near the western horizon in the month of May, so I have looked only in May using Stellarium and have gone more than 1000 years into the future and have not been able to find the crescent moon this close again.

What I want to find, is a day when the crescent is 1% to 2% illuminated (this crescent is 1.3% illuminated), and within 2 to 3 degrees from the Pleiades. Does anyone have a clue if this will ever occur again, or have I captured a truly unique occurrence?

Technical Details

Nikon D850, Nikon 400 mm f/5.6 MF lens, set at f8, 1.4 sec, ISO 100. Photographed on May 8th, at 8:34 pm. Simple processing in ACR and PS. I created a mask for the stars by carefully selecting the brightest star in the photo and then used several curves to brighten the stars so that they show up bright.

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Yousseff, sorry, I can’t help with your prediction problem, your skills there are vastly superior to mine. In comparing this version with your previous post, most of the Pleiades are easier to see here (although still not easy). In your previous version there were two that stood out a bit, while the others were harder to see. Here, I see all seven in the largest view, albeit dimly. I have had some luck getting specific stars to show better by using an L2 or L3 luminosity mask and repeatedly dodging…there is more tendency to brighten the area around the star with the L2 mask, while the L3 takes more clicks. The extra brightening gives the star a touch of glow, that you may or may not like.

The subtlety and the conjunction here are excellent.

Wonderful and amazing capture!! I wish I could offer any help but have no idea how to find things like that – but somebody must! Have you tried contacting university astronomy departments? This sounds like something amenable to software. If we can predict things like comets over hundreds of years, this must be a simple query.

You might try to contact someone at Sky and Telescope Magazine. This sounds like something someone there would be interested in.

Ditto, sorry I can’t be of more help.

I love the idea of the moon and constellation, and enjoy the background color you have here.

It sounds like you’ve already chased the stars quite a bit, but as a non-astronomer (more from a photography point of view) they seem to be integral to the image and I’d make them stand out even more.