Photography – 2023 Venus and Pleiades Conjunction

I’m sharing with you a photo I took of the recent Venus and Pleiades conjunction. The closest approach was on April 10th, but I had to wait until the 12th for a clear sky. It was a pretty sight to see the bright planet and the star cluster so close together in the night sky. I used my Canon 80D and a telephoto lens to capture this image. Here are some tips on how I did it:

  • Because I was going to take a long exposure and wanted round starts I used my equatorial mount and installed the camera with a clear view of the western horizon.
  • I set the camera to manual mode, the aperture to f/4.5, the shutter speed to 5 seconds, and the ISO to 1600.
  • I zoomed in with 135mm of focal length for the desired framing and focused on the bright stars using live view. Initially selected a bright star, and then moving to more dim ones for final focus adjustments. I made sure that both Venus and the Pleiades were nicely in the frame.
  • To take a photo without camera shake I used the 10sec delay and then checked the histogram to verified that the result is not overexposed.
  • I then went into the interval setting of the camera to take multiple photos, around 70 in total.
  • I imported the photos into Deep Sky Stacker for the registration and stacking of the photos.
  • Then opened the resulting photo over to GIMP for final adjustments like white balance, levels, color saturation, background gradient removal and noise reduction.
  • I exported the final image as a JPEG. Here it is, click to open full image:
Venus and Pleiades Conjunction April 12, 2023

I was hoping to capture a hint of the nebulosity within the star cluster, but I guess 5 seconds exposures, even when integrated to 6 minutes is not enough to capture that fainter detail. It was around 8:00pm when I took the photos, the sky was not fully dark, making the use of exposure above 5 seconds too bright. However I did manage to capture the colors of the stars down to magnitude 9.

I hope you enjoyed this post and learned something new. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below. Thanks for reading!

Canon 80D
135mm F4.5 telephoto lens
Individual photos: 5 seconds at ISO 1600
6 minutes total integration time
Vixen GP Equatorial Mount (untracked)
Registration and stacking with DSS
GIMP for final adjustment

Weekend Observation Opportunity: Venus and the Pleiades

There is a great weekend observation and photo opportunity as Venus is passing within a few degrees of the Pleiades open star cluster (Messier 45).  You won’t need a sky chart for this one, simply look West in the evening and Venus should be easily spotted as the brightest point in the sky.  The Pleiades can be observed without any instruments, but if you have binoculars you’ll better appreciate this open star cluster also called Seven Sisters.

A camera and a tripod?  Why not!  Try different settings to see which one give you the best results.

Around April 10th, Venus will pass within 2deg of the Pleiades (Messier 45)

Around April 10th, Venus will pass within 2deg of the Pleiades (Messier 45)

While you are checking out that part of the sky, scan 40 degrees towards the South (to the left) and you’ll find the Hunter constellation (Orion) also great to look at and photograph.  Take the time to observe the colour of the stars, from the red supergiant Betelgeuse to the blue supergiant Rigel, the two brightest stars in Orion.

These two constellation (Taurus and Orion) will set around midnight, therefore they will be low over the horizon (20deg above horizon at 9pm local time).

April 10, 2015 - Orion and Taurus Constellations

April 10, 2015 – Orion and Taurus Constellations