Interesting conjunctions of the planets offer celestial sights that you can enjoy without the benefit of a telescope. On July 15, 2001, Venus and Saturn presented a spectacular pre-dawn sight to early risers, as our sister planet passed just 0.7 degrees south of Saturn in the morning sky. The brightest star to the right of Venus is Aldebaran in the constellation of Taurus. The V-shaped group of stars (including Aldebaran) are known as the Hyades. Visible near the top of the photo is the Pleiades star cluster.
At the time of this conjunction, Venus was a bright magnitude -4.1 beacon, and Saturn was a very respectable magnitude +0.2. Just to top things off and add to the spectacle, low in the east-northeast. Jupiter was also visible to the upper right of Mercury. Unfortunately, I did not catch them in this photo.
This photograph was published in the July 2007 issue of Astronomy Magazine at page 44. It is a piggyback shot taken with a Nikon F2 camera using a 35mm lens and Fuji HG 800 film.
July 15, 2001
Photo by Sid Leach
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