Beaghmore Stone Circles and Planet conjunctions

The stone circles at Beaghmore are thought to date from the early bronze age. They were discovered in the 1940s during peat cutting in the area and contain several circles, cairns and rows. Its a very interesting place and obviously contains a lot of history, so i thought it would provide the perfect foreground for capturing the moon/planet conjunction on the 26th March. The site also featured in the recent three day star-gazing live event and is considered one of the best dark sky sites in Northern Ireland.

Monday the 26th was a beautiful day with unbroken sunshine and warm temperatures for March. Clear skies were forecast and with Beaghmore in mind i texted my friend Stephen and we arranged to meet up at 20:00 for a nights shooting. Its great to have some company when out at night especially at these rural locations with nobody around for miles.

On arrival we were glad to see the sky totally clear as darkness fell. In the west there was a really nice sunset afterglow which persisted longer than usual and this provided some good contrast against the dark sky. The cresent moon and Venus/jupiter conjunction was awesome looking and dominated the sky.

I had some fun with the above shot and must have attempted it seven or eight times before i got it how i wanted. Its a thirty second exposure and after pressing the shutter release to start the exposure i quickly walked around the stone circle with a torch illumating each one. The first few tries i either accidently shone the torch back at the camera or i wasn't quick enough or i was too slow and my ghostly figure would show up on the shot. You can also see some larger stones lit up on the right hand side where Stephen is working on his own shots.

A bit later now and the glow in the west has faded although a deeper orange colour lit up the horizon.

Messing about here with different lighting and shadows, liked the way this one turned out, the stones seemed to pop out of the image when lit from behind.

Decided to do a star-trail with some of the bigger stones, i got the tripod down as low as possible and thought i had the north star Polaris in the frame too but just missed it. Turned out ok but i want to return and try this one again with different lighting on the stones, perhaps a bit softer and a longer trail.

Various images of the conjunction in March and April.

Venus, Jupiter and cresent moon with earthshine on the 25th March.

The stunning Venus-Pleiades close conjunction on the 3rd April, a sight that won't be witnessed for another eight years. This is a crop from a 50mm shot.