Want to stay on top of all the space news? Follow @universetoday on Twitter
Triple planets (Venus/Jupiter/Mercury) conjunction over Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy, France on May 26. Credit: Thierry Legault - www.astrophoto.fr Update: See expanded Conjunction astrophoto gallery below
The rare astronomical coincidence of a spectacular triangular triple conjunction of 3 bright planets happening right now is certainly wowing the entire World of Earthlings! That is if our gallery of astrophotos assembled here is any indication.
Right at sunset, our Solar System’s two brightest planets – Venus and Jupiter – as well as the sun’s closest planet Mercury are very closely aligned for about a week in late May 2013 – starting several days ago and continuing throughout this week.
And, for an extra special bonus – did you know that a pair of spacecraft from Earth are orbiting two of those planets?
Have you seen it yet ?
Well you’re are in for a celestial treat. The conjunction is visible to the naked eye – look West to Northwest shortly after sunset. No telescopes or binoculars needed.
Triple conjunction shot on May 26 from a mile high in Payson,Az. 4 second exposure, ISO200, Canon 10D, 80mm f/5 lens. Credit: Chris Schur- http://www.schursastrophotography.com
Just check out our Universe Today collection of newly snapped astrophoto’s and videos sent to Nancy and Ken by stargazing enthusiasts from across the globe. See an earlier gallery – here.
Throughout May, the trio of wandering planets have been gradually gathering closer and closer.
On May 26 and 27, Venus, Jupiter and Mercury appear just 3 degrees apart as a spectacular triangularly shaped object in the sunset skies – which
adds a palatial pallet of splendid hues not possible at higher elevations.
And don’t dawdle if you want to see this celestial feast. The best times are 30 to 60 minutes after sunset – because thereafter they’ll disappear below the horizon.
The sky show will continue into late May as the planets alignment changes every day.
On May 28, Venus and Jupiter close in to within just 1 degree.
And on May 30 & 31, Venus, Jupiter and Mercury will form an imaginary line in the sky.
Triple planetary conjunctions are a rather rare occurrence. The last one took place in May 2011. And we won’t see another one until October 2015.
Indeed the wandering trio are also currently the three brightest planets visible. Venus is about magnitude minus 4, Jupiter is about minus 2.
While you’re enjoying the fantastic view, ponder this: The three planets are also joined by two orbiting spacecraft from humanity. NASA’s MESSENGER is orbiting Mercury. ESA’s Venus Express is orbiting Venus. And NASA’s Juno spacecraft is on a long looping trajectory to Jupiter.
Send Ken you conjunction photos to post here.
And don’t forget to “Send Your Name to Mars” aboard NASA’s MAVEN orbiter- details here. Deadline: July 1, 2013
May 25 conjunction over Malta. Canon 450D with a 55mm. lens and an exposure of 1/2 second at ISO 200 on a tripod. Credit: Leonard Ellul-Mercer
May 26 triple conjunction from Warwick, NY snapped from Canon Rebel, 100mm – 300mm lens. Credit: Pietro Carboni
Triple conjunction from Hondo, Texas taken with a Nikon D800 @ ISO 400 and a 2 second exposure with a Nikon 300mm Lens at F/4. Credit: Adrian New
Sunset conjunction with fast moving clouds on May 26 through 10 x 50 binoculars from a seashore town -Marina di Pisa, Tuscany, Italy. Credit: Giuseppe Petricca
Caption: Taken on 2013-05-23 from Salem, Missouri. Canon T1i, Nikkor 105mm lens. 297 1/4s at 1s interval. Images assembled by QuickTime Pro. Credit: Joseph Shuster
May 26 sunset conjunction from Princeton, NJ. Credit: Ken Kremer -kenkremer.com
Triple Planetary conjunction over Onset MA. Shot with a Nikon d7000 1/200 f 4 iso 100 at 110mm. Credit: Phillip Damiano
Panoramic view over Almada City and Lisbon at the Nautical Twilight, with the Full moon rising above the Eastern horizon (right side of the image), while at the same time but in the opposite direction, the planets Venus, Mercury and Jupiter, are aligned in a triangle formation, setting in the Western horizon (left side of the image).In this panoramic picture is also visible the smooth light transition in the sky, with the end of Nautical Twilight and the beginning of Astronomical Twilight (almost night), at right. Facing to North, is visible the great lighted Monument Christ the King and at the left side of it, part of the 25 April Bridge that connects Almada to Lisbon. Canon 50D – ISO200; f/4; Exp. 1,6 Sec; 35mm. Panoramic of 10 images with about 200º, taken at 21h42 in 25/05/2013. Credit: Miguel Claro – www.miguelclaro.com
The triple conjunction of Venus, Mercury and Jupiter as seen over an Arizona desert landscape. Credit and copyright: Robert Sparks.
Jupiter, Venus and Mercury triple conjunction seen here reflecting off Chatsworth Lake in Chatsworth, NJ. Jupiter (on the left) was 2.4° from Mercury (upper-right in the sky) and 2.0° from Venus (bottom right in the sky), while Venus and Mercury were 1.9° apart. Venus was at 2.6° altitude. Canon EOS 6D, 105 mm focal length, 1.3 seconds, f/6.3, ISO 800. Credit: Joe Stieber – sjastro.org/
Triple conjunction on May 27 with WBZ radio towers south east of Boston. Hampton Hill, Hull, MA. Nikon D3x -iso200- 1.3 sec.at f2.8. Credit: Richard W. Green
Dr. Ken Kremer is a speaker, scientist, freelance science journalist (Princeton, NJ) and photographer whose articles, space exploration images and Mars mosaics have appeared in magazines, books, websites and calanders including Astronomy Picture of the Day and the covers of Aviation Week & Space Technology, Spaceflight and the Explorers Club magazines. Ken has presented at numerous educational institutions, civic & religious organizations, museums and astronomy clubs. Ken has reported first hand from the Kennedy Space Center and lectures on both Human and Robotic spaceflight - www.kenkremer.com