The sun is setting behind the row of trees on the hill, and you can just make out the wink of Venus over the smiling moon. I set up the camera, take a few pictures and sit down to wait for the sky to darken. Some kids wander over to see what I'm doing. Jake knows all about Venus and Jupiter: "I've seen Venus before." Adam can top him: "I've seen Pluto," he claims. Hmmmmm.
Jake, who's eight, knows quite a lot about the planets, but he can't understand why Jupiter is closer to the sun than Venus (as they appear in the sky), so I draw him a mud map of the solar system and and we have an interesting discussion about why Venus is brighter than Jupiter even though Jupiter is so much bigger. "Venus is my favourite planet," he admits.
Soon, their dads arrive to see what we're looking at and one expresses doubts about whether the bright star can be Venus -- "isn't it always around in the morning?"; meanwhile, Jupiter has winked into view. I wait a bit longer: the sky is darkening and everyone is going home, although Jake is keen to stay and see Spica appear. Just as he and his dad reach the bottom of the hill, I am able to call out, "Look, there it is." The tiny spot of blue is just visible to the left of the moon.
I move the camera over the hill, away from the sportsground lights. Now I can get the shot I'm waiting for. And here's another one of just the moon, Venus and Spica. Not bad for a park surrounded by city light pollution, if I say so myself.