I began my night sky shooting stint earlier this week in Chile with a shot of the dawn gathering of planets. I’ve ended it with another, taken this morning at 7 a.m., on May 7, 2011.
This scene shows four planets partaking in a rare close mutual conjunction in the morning sky. From top to bottom they are: Venus (brightest) with Mercury just to the right of Venus (both inner worlds appear close together for the next week or so), then below that pair, Jupiter, then at the bottom and faintest, Mars.
Notice how Venus, Jupiter and Mars are almost equally spaced, forming a straight line that defines the ecliptic path of the planets, here seen coming up vertically from the horizon. This is the view from 23° south latitude; from Canada these planets would be arrayed more horizontally low across the eastern horizon.
The conical peak at left is 5,900-metre-high Licancabur Volcano. The lights are tail lights of pre-dawn traffic going over the high pass over the Andes into Bolivia.
– Alan, May 7, 2011 / Image © 2011 Alan Dyer