Jupiter Mars Conjunction January 6-7, 2018

Moon, Mars and Venus Setting over Mount Whitney

A past conjunction: the moon, Mars and Venus setting over Mount Whitney

The planets in our solar system orbit the sun in a plane, the “ecliptic plane”.  Seen from the side within that plane from here on earth, they appear to travel in a line in the sky.  As the planets travel in different orbits at different speeds, they sometimes seem to pass one another along that imaginary ecliptic line in the sky, as seen from here on earth. From the United States, the pass will occur between the mornings of January 6 and 7, 2018. Mars and Jupiter will pass within 1/4 degree, 1/2 moon width, of each other.

For the image above from the moon, Mars, Venus conjunction on February 20, 2015, I identified several locations to the conjunction as the moon and planets set over Mount Whitney, near Lone Pine, California. This time the planets will be about 3 times closer to each other.

Here are some actual photos of Jupiter and Mars approaching each other in the sky on recent nights:

Jupiter Mars Conjunction January 7

Jupiter and Mars on December 30, approaching conjunction January 6/7 2017

Approaching Jupiter Mars Conjunction

Jupiter and Mars January 2, rising before dawn

Astrophotographer Jeff Sullivan

On January 5 Jupiter and Mars continue their approach towards conjunction January 6

Here’s a time-lapse of the planets rising on the morning of January 2:

The images and sample time-lapse were captured at a modest 200 mm focal length, the event will be more interesting when they are close enough to shoot at 300-400mm or more, their movement towards each other becomes even more obvious, and while the moons of Jupiter become even more apparent. The two planets will rise over the eastern horizon around 2:45 am on a zero degree horizon here in the Pacific time zone (at a compass angle of 112 degrees, a bit south of east), but I’ve been watching them past 6 am on recent mornings, so you can catch them from when they rise well into twilight. With my actual horizon being more than zero degrees, the planets will appear to rise closer to 3 am for me.

Here’s my result showing the progress of the planets, footage from the mornings of January 2, 3, 5, and 7:

Aside from the planets close together, what else might have been shot? With a long enough exposure and an interesting horizon, a time-lapse video of the planets rising could be interesting, somewhat like this prior shoot of a planetary conjunction setting:

Moon – Mars – Venus Conjunction Setting Over Mount Whitney from Jeff Sullivan on Vimeo.

I chose not to travel to an interesting landscape for this event due to a stormy weather forecast for much of the week here in the Eastern Sierra, including rain on January 6.

Venus Jupiter Moon Conjunction

Venus Jupiter Moon Conjunction, August 23, 2014

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Astronomical Events Coming in March 2012

To get the best possible results with my astrophotography, I try to plan ahead to shoot as many astronomical events as I can. Here are some of the opportunities you’ll have in the next month:

March 3/4: Mars at Opposition.  Mars will be as close as it gets to the earth, and will rise in the evening as the sun sets.
March 5: Mercury may be visible shortly after the sun sets through March 12, but on March 5 it reaches it maximum distance from the sun.
March 7: The nearly-full moon will rise just before sunset. Mars will rise right behind the moon in the evening sky.
March 8: Full moon.
March 9: The nearly-full moon will set just after sunrise.
March 10 – 20: Venus and Jupiter Conjunction
March 12: Arguably the best day of the Venus – Jupiter conjunction, as Jupiter will be just above Venus.
March 21: Thin crescent moon rises shortly before sunrise.
March 22: New Moon. March 21-24 will be good nights for star trail photography!
March 24: Thin crescent moon sets shortly before sunset.
March 24-25: Conjunction of Venus, Jupiter and the crescent moon.

I’ll be out shooting with 25-30 of my photographer friends in Anza Borrego State Park and Death Valley National Park in the March 2-10 timeframe, and soon I’ll be announcing photowalks for April, May and June.  The best place to catch my announcements will be on Google+:

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