Amazing Winter Planetary Alignment
If you love seeing spectacular celestial bodies getting close to one another, then get ready! Just after sunset on February 25, 2012 there will be an amazing winter planetary alignment. It really doesn’t get any easier than this my fellow space fans. Here are your instructions: when the sun goes down on February 25th, put your winter coat on (optional), go outside, take a deep breath, look to the west and say WOW!
Two of the brightest of the winter night sky objects – Venus and Jupiter will be sparkling in the twilight. They will be very close to one another – only about 10 degrees apart – which means you could touch both of them if you extend your fingers and hold your hand outstretched toward the sky. If that’s not enough, the crescent Moon will be joining the pair forming a beautiful triangle.
Take a look at the star map above. Notice that this rare planetary conjunction will also include Mercury (very close to the sun) and Uranus almost lined up in a neat row. Odds are, you won’t be able to see either one of these planets. The glare of the setting sun will hide Mercury and Uranus is so far away, that you won’t be able to detect it without strong binoculars or a small telescope.
I want you to keep your eyes on Jupiter and Venus for the next month. They will continue to get closer and closer to one another until on they converge on March 12th and March 13th. On those nights, you will see something fantastic. Jupiter and Venus will be within just 3 degrees from one another – you may never see these two beauties so close to one another again!
I plan on spending several nights with my camera capturing this event. I’ll post some of my pictures. If you have any great images that you want to share with us, send them to us and we’ll get them posted on the site.
February 24, 2012
I was able to get this picture of Venus and Jupiter last night. It was tricky, there were a lot of clouds. Unfortunately, I missed the moon which had set by the time the clouds had cleared up. I took this using my Nikon D300 using an 18mm-55mm zoom lens. ISO 1600 at f4.0 for 10 seconds.
February 26, 2012
I took this picture tonight of the Moon, Jupiter and Venus. It was a spectacular sight!
Here’s a close up of the crescent Moon.
February 27, 2012
I got this shot tonight – from bottom to top: Venus, Jupiter, the Crescent Moon AND the Pleiades. All in one frame. This was taken with my Nikon D300. Focal length 24mm, f/4, 19 seconds at ISO-800.
March 6, 2012
Tonight I was able to capture Venus and Jupiter. The moon was behind me and washed out the landscape creating an almost daytime like appearance. Taken with my Nikon D300. f/3.5 with a 6 second exposure at ISO-1600.
March 13, 2013
Taken tonight at about 9:15pm EST. You can see how close Venus and Jupiter are to one another now. It is a beautiful sight – two bright celestial beacons shining in the early western night sky. Taken with my Nikon D300. ISO-1250 f/3.5 for 13 seconds.
March 26, 2012
Two images taken tonight of Jupiter, Venus, the crescent Moon and the Pleiades. Enjoy!