On February 20, skygazers were treated to a dramatic astronomical dance between Venus, Mars, and the moon. Not since 2008 had these three objects found themselves in such close quarters. Kevin Bourque captured the trio (and some nice earthshine, to boot) in this arresting photograph.

Photo featured by kind permission of Kevin Bourque

Bourque tells io9 he knew the conjunction was coming, so he scouted the framing a few days ahead of time – but he captured this shot from the foot of his driveway:

I like the picture because it has lots of layers....distant stars (light years), planets (light minutes), moon (light seconds), thin clouds (in our own atmosphere) and my neighbor's tree (across the street). Right about in the center of the triangle (but not visible or marked, of course) is the point in the sky where zero hours right ascension crosses the celestial equator. [Ed. note: You can think of right ascension as the celestial equivalent of terrestrial longitude – here's a good primer, for those interested.]

Tech stuff: Canon T3i with a manual focus Nikon 200mm lens. Pretty sure the exposure was three seconds but I don't have the ISO and fstop in front of me. I used one of these things to track the exposure. They're terrific for guided camera exposures. I look forward to events like this and photograph them whenever I can.


The next time these three meet will be October 5, 2017. Here are some additional tips on how to photograph them for yourself.