Our Solar System Planets On Display
Friday 24th was a unique experience, all the planets in our solar system were on display at once. This alignment hasn't happened since 2004 and it won't happen again until 2040. Below is the pano I shot not long after Mercury rose above the horizon.
Visible planets have pointers and larger labels, smaller labels show position of non-visible.
Beginning in the east, on the left of the image is the elusive Mercury, it's orbit is so close to the Sun that it can only be seen just before sunrise or shortly after sunset. Next is Venus, the brightest of the visible planets and the crescent Moon. Since the Moon is orbiting the Earth it acts as a stand it for us in the parade. Uranus is between Venus and the Moon but isn't actually visible without at telescope. Mars with it's persistent red tint is above and to the right of the Moon. The largest planet, Jupiter, is next and somewhere between it and the last visible planet, Saturn, is icy Neptune.
The photograph isn't actually a single image, it's a pano that consists of 5 separate images shot in a sequence. A fellow photographer and I met on the north end of Pawleys Island at about 430am. We spent an anxious hour or so on the beach watching the clouds clear out and gather again. Capturing test shots and peering at the horizon waiting for Mercury to appear and begin the parade. Luck was on our side and for a few brief moments in one of the few relatively clear spots on the South Carolina coast we were able to view and photograph all the visible planets in our solar system.
Part of what makes these late night/early morning trips out under the stars worth it is being able to experience moments like these and then through my photography, share them with others.
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