A photographer captured Venus and Jupiter over a period of 10 days as they converged toward each other in the night sky, practically kissing one another at the apex.
While in reality the planets were actually separated by 373 million miles (600 million kilometers), to observers on Earth it looked as if the two planets were right next to one another.
Soumyadeep Mukherjee was lucky to get 10 clear nights from his home in Dhanbad, India, to create the paneled image showing the passage of Venus and Jupiter.
“I always love doing long-term projects with astrophotography that span over a week or month,” he tells PetaPixel.
“With the Venus-Jupiter conjunction, I had the same opportunity. Such images always have a surprise element at the end, I never get to know to imagine how the final image would look like.”
Mukherjee began the project on February 21 with Jupiter at the top and ended it on March 2 with Jupiter dropping below Venus where it will soon disappear below the horizon out of view, but Venus will remain a bright evening star.
“I used the same set of equipment throughout,” he explains on his Instagram page. “A Nikon D5600, Sigma 50mm, and a Benro Rhino Tripod. The aperture was maintained at f/2.8 and ISO was kept at 200 for all the images.
“Shutter speed varied from 1/3 second to 1 second, depending on the lighting conditions. All the images were taken at a similar time, between 18:10 and 18:20 IST.”
Mukherjee says that he was “lucky” to capture the planets’ relative movement and was fascinated by the ever-changing hue of the sky at sunset.
“This particular image was initially unplanned as I never expected to get 10 days of clear skies in a row,” he tells PetaPixel.
“It was only after the third day that I decided to go for it. From a planning perspective, it was relatively easy as the only challenge was to get good weather.”
Mukherjee’s image was picked up by NASA which featured it as their Astronomy Picture of the Day.
“Although I would have liked to continue this project for another eight to nine days (to show how they also distance away from one another), I’m pretty happy how the final image came out after 10 days.”
More of Mukherjee’s work can be found on his Instagram.
Image credits: All photos by Soumyadeep Mukherjee.