Conjunction of Venus, Jupiter and the Crescent Moon

June 30, 2015


Photographer: Joe Bauman
Summary Author: Joe Bauman
For many months, an impressive conjunction has been forming with the greatest solar system planet, Jupiter, and Venus, the brightest planet as seen from Earth. Huge Jupiter, with its orbit of nearly 12 Earth years, has remained relatively stationary. In a 225-day orbit, Venus zips around much faster. Lately, Venus has been edging closer to Earth, climbing higher in the evening sky. Tonight, Venus and Jupiter will form a stunning duo just after sunset. They'll be about a third of a degree apart as seen from our perspective. The combination would be different observed from anywhere else in the solar system; Earth’s orbit around the Sun creates the alignment.
A lovely curtain-raiser to tonight's great conjunction was the lovely, near-isosceles triangle formed earlier this month by the addition of the scene-stealing Moon. On the evening of June 19, I set up my telescope in a desert area Utah amateur astronomers call Lakeside hoping to photograph a supernova my friend Patrick Wiggins had discovered a few days earlier. While preparing to take an astrophoto of the galaxy the supernova was found in, I noticed the lovely conjunction shown above. Jupiter is at the top, comparatively dim because of its vast distance, with Venus below and to the right, and the crescent (three and a half day old) Moon below Venus. Earth’s own Grassy Mountains are in the background.

Photo Details: Camera: NIKON D70; Focal Length: 29mm (35mm equivalent: 43mm); Aperture: ƒ/4.0; Exposure Time: 0.167 s (1/6); Software: Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0.