Yesterday evening candace and I made the effort to get out to Hampstead Heath. We've been trying to spot Venus (low in the northwest just after sunset; so low, in fact, that London's horizons are perpetually in the way) for a week or two now, but Parliament Hill seemed likely to provide the best viewing spot. I also wanted to see giant chair sculpture that was officially unveiled that evening.
After the usual entertaining ride on the North London Line (junkies? check! graffiti? check!) and the walk up the hill, candace did some running while I scanned the London skyline looking for the church near work (found it, too), before we both sat down and watched the sun finally slip below the trees and waited for the sky to darken. Our waiting was enlivened by some suicidal nutters who were cycling / skateboarding / both down the hill; one of them actually climbed the sculpture, too (doubly disproving Michael Rosen's theory that you can't see the top: not only can you climb the desk, but it's next to a bloody great hill which overlooks it).
Finally Venus showed up, and I think I also saw Mercury briefly just before it set. As the light continued to ebb away, I got acquainted with the Summer Triangle, and waited for the moon to rise. About 10:30, I noticed a ruddy glow behind St Pauls, nearly directly to the south, and so did the scores of other people atop the hill. Even the strumming guitarist stopped and looked, for it was... magnificent.
Through an atmosphere of smog, the moon rose behind the city skyline, distorted and partially hidden behind bands of cloud. At least three photographers there had tripods; others used cameras with the flash on, lighting up the trees near us but not the scene they were trying to capture. candace tried to reprise my trick of using the binoculars to magnify the scene, but the darkness meant her photos "on Flickr" have an inescapable fuzzy quality.
Reluctantly we came back down the hill at 11 or so, aware that being stranded two buses from home towards midnight wouldn't leave us all that fit for work. Come the morning, I was surprised to see that the full moon had made BBC News. Mind you, their photo doesn't do the spectacle justice. I'm very pleased to have been lucky enough to see it.