Pic of pairs of planets and people

By Phil Plait | March 15, 2012 4:23 pm

Astrophotographer Guillaume Poulin sent me this wonderful and lovely picture he took of the Venus/Jupiter conjunction on March 11, 2012:

[Click to embiggen.]

I love the colors of the sky in this! I also like the theme of pairs; the planets, the humans, and the barns. This was taken near the Mont-Mégantic Observatory in Canada, right after sunset, so the silhouettes of Guillaume’s girlfriend and her brother are nice and sharp. Simply beautiful.

And if Guillaume’s name is familiar, that’s because he and Rémi Boucher created an amazing time lapse video I featured here not long ago of the eastern US coast as seen by the space station. I sure hope he keeps making such beautiful imagery so I can feature it here.

… and the two planets are still making a spectacle of themselves to the west. Make sure you go look!

Related Posts:

Jupiter and Venus still blaze in the west
Venus and the Moon, looking pretty
The Moon and Venus, a gorgeous pair

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Pretty pictures

Comments (16)

Links to this Post

  1. Conjunction Junction « Galileo's Pendulum | March 16, 2012
  1. Seda

    And the pair of trees. Lovely photo.

  2. AliCali

    And let’s be generous and count the trees as part of the pairs theme. See how the right tree is bigger than the left, just as the right planet is brighter than the left?

  3. Gabby

    Why can’t that picture be clicked to awesomenate?

  4. Ben

    Well done again Guillaume!!

  5. mfumbesi

    The two people are dwarfed by the barns, I thought they were kids.
    Great pic, keep the sharing going.

  6. lepton

    I mistakenly read as “the plants, the humans, and the barns”. Great photo indeed!

  7. Hi

    let me show You all a very curious snapshot taken by me yesterday in Padua.

    You can see Galileo Galilei looking at the Venus Jupiter conjuction.


    The Galileo Statue is in the “Prato della Valle” Square, one of the biggest in Europe (the other image in the post).

    We are no more than 400 meters from the place from which Galileo observed for the first time in the Humankind history Jupiter and its satellites (january 2010)


  8. Monkey

    They are wonderful from my porch in Taiwan….as far away from home as I may live, those two together always remind me of chilled evenings gazing up.

  9. Nigel Depledge

    That is indeed one gorgeous photo.

  10. Nicholas

    I always used to read stuff like this when journeying into adulthood and look forward to sharing observing these sorts of interesting astronomical events with my kids. To be able to show them aurora from our home in PA, or show them planetary conjunctions after a magical sunset, or point out how bright Mars is and explain orbits and how they relate. I never had the opportunity to learn as much about this stuff as I’d like, but I hope for more for them.

    I have a relatively new family; two new daughters aged 9 and 10 who have been living with me now for over half a year. And in the past 7-8 months I’ve read these after-the-fact reports with sadness; always hearing about something that I’d love to share either after it happens (making it impossible to see with the kids) or within a day of it happening (making it impractical to see with the kids as other plans interfere). This problem is only exacerbated by the fact that I read these in a daily feed and receive posts up to 24 hours after they go online.

    I was wandering if you might we willing to consider making note of things like this a week or so in advance? I know this would help me experience some things I’ve never had the opportunity to experience, and allow me to give the kids an introduction to the universe and a segue into discussions about science. And I think it would help a lot of others in a similar position to myself as well, as I don’t think my situation is all that uncommon. I know there’s a few other sites, mostly more technical in nature, that help provide this kind of information, but a more mainstream blog like yours could get the word out to more people and provide the explanations to work up enough excitement to insure the readers actually make the time to go out and look up.

  11. Jeff

    yup, hits you over the head with the fact that it’s all connected together in the solar system. Leap day the students said five planets were out after sunset, plus first quar. moon and twilight, & that’s about all the objects in the 7 day week except Saturn, so they all felt the connection personally. ( I think most people reading this know about Sun’s day, Moon’s day, Tues. (Mars day), Wedn, (Mercury’s ) , Thurs. (Jupiter’s ), Fri. (Venus’), Saturn’s day, well just look up the list in a romance language like Spanish).

  12. I see from playing with an online solar system simulator that we should have another conjunction between Venus and Jupiter around mid-July. Can anybody confirm this?

  13. Jeff

    14: yes, Venus-Jupiter will align again about July 1 ; and Venus-Jupiter-moon will align pretty close July 14. These are in early morning sky before sunrise.

  14. Infinite123Lifer

    What another great picture!

    I am sorry Phil, but some things get me so excited I just have to try and share. I don’t suppose that a lack of sharing for a month gives me the right to share a months worth of sharing? :) Awe, sharing is caring. And I care about what goes on here and everywhere else, sometimes I just don’t have the words to describe it.

    But first, Nicholas, I understand. Keep up the good work. I often find that my 9 year old son does not share the same awe that I do for all things wondrously scientific. And, even if I miss something that I think would have been cool, or informative, or important or neat I always just let him know that “hey, darn it, we missed Venus and Jupiter, that might never happen for a thousand years again, guess WE will have to keep our eyes and ears open for cool stuff like this in the future”. Of course with just a little digging he found out that it will happen before we both die….like tomorrow night, which almost tickled me to death.”

    Phil, I love your blog, someday could you possibly get a cape? Super-Phil perhaps…jus sayin’

    Warning, possibly a minutia of substance follows. Read at your own risk.

    I was watching Man vs. Wild the other day and I think he was in Belize. I suppose he was having a rough go at it (being in the jungle and all) and for a moment the camera just stopped and pointed at a purple flower growing high in a tree all on its own. Bear mentioned that to him it was “gods extravagance”, that (not a quote here but what I remember) that here is this purple flower growing in the middle of nowhere which nobody might ever see or know about but there he was observing it and that that is the type of simple observation which inspires him to keep going.

    Proof? I know, I know.

    However, I could not help but to look up at these planets last night and wonder exactly the same thing, for everything going on on Venus or Jupiter or Mars, every little dust devil, every mega-storm, every rock that rolls, every brilliant chemical reaction or for that matter anything taking place which can really only now (from my futile perspective) be dreamed of . . . everywhere throughout all our universe’s history of time which to our knowledge might never be observed, it seems rather extravagant of the Universe to be so . . . well extravagant.

    This then made me think of The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow in which I would just like to quote directly a few sentences from the first chapter:

    pg7. “In the history of science we have discovered a sequence of better and better theories or models, from Plato to the classical theory of Newton to modern quantum theories. It is natural to ask: Will this sequence eventually reach an end point, an ultimate theory of the universe, that will include all forces and predict every observation we can make, or will we continue forever finding better theories, but never one that cannot be improved upon?”

    Then the book goes on about M-theory unto perhaps for me the most intriguing paragraph in the book:

    pg8. “M-theory predicts that a great many universes were created out of nothing. Their creation does not require the intervention of some supernatural being or god. Rather, these multiple universes arise naturally from physical law. They are a prediction of science.” Each universe has many possible histories and many possible states at later times, that is, at times like the present, long after their creation. Most of these states will be quite unlike the universe we observe and quite unsuitable for the existence of any form of life. Only a very few would allow creatures like us to exist. Thus our presence selects out from this vast array only those universes that are compatible with our existence. Although, we are puny and insignificant on the scale of the cosmos, this makes us in a sense the lords of creation.”

    Now, its probably frowned upon here maybe to quote such a lengthy amount but I am unable to form such elegance in determining how to relay my wonder. I see similarity between what Bear Grylls was getting at and that which The Grand Design suggests. It is the overwhelming extravagance of just observing, realizing and knowing that there are things going on, that we are going on, that the cosmos is going on and that leads me to wonder and push on through the tough stuff.

    Does a bacterium have any more sense of self awareness than we do? Okay, bacterium obviously do not do a lot of things which humans do, nor have they a conscious among other biological things which I am not capable of getting into detail with, but this whole being alive thing is quite precarious. I think if you ask the question if something knows whether it is alive or not such as a bacteria a tree or a protozoan and you answer No, i think that is almost as fair as saying rocks don’t know they exist, almost but not quite.

    Sure the Kingdom’s of Monera, Protista and Plantae do not look up into the sky and observe what they know to be planets named Venus and Jupiter and then write extensive possibly useless comments on a blog somewhere which will inevitable upset Somebody, and since I am wandering down my path I might as well say I don’t believe neutrino’s or atom’s or the elements they make up are capable of observation and choice, as they follow the Laws attended to them by the Universe itself. But if they follow the laws, and I am made up of these things which follow laws…well, I am going to at least let that sleeping dog sleep.

    But to classify what it means to be aware is impossible I reason, ultimately relatively impossible. Yes, humans as a collective are aware of . . . so much, so much more than that of our fellow tree or bacteria, however as the question was asked in The Grand Design “It is natural to ask: Will this sequence (of discovering better and better theories or models) eventually reach an end point . . .”.

    How can it. Just as the purple flower is Bear Grylls “God’s extravagance”, The Grand Designs extravagance is the Universe itself and the possibility that there are other universe’s out there which might never be seen Sure M-theory can predict that a purple flower will grow in the jungles of Belize and only Bear Grylls and his crew will ever see it but what cannot be predicted in whole of eternity or the Life-span of the Universe or others.

    The extravagance of M-theory is as extravagant as Bear’s purple flower. They are one in the same. Without any knowledge of self Life is still alive and able to sometimes persist throughout time and whatever form of Life, Life takes on, it is still precarious and in whatever form I still reason it knows basically nothing about itself when confronted with the extravagance of the cosmos, and at the exact same time I ponder that “it” is Exactly aware of itself, “it” being of course: Life, the Universe and Everything.

    Sorry Phil, I probably don’t help your cause much but I respect Phil Plait and millions of others like him. It is the little things in Life which push us on and through to wherever we need to go, sometimes we just need to get out of the jungle, and other times we just have to find out why…or at least HOW.


    We are all parts of the same whole.

    And no, I did not just compare Bear Grylls to Stephen Hawking. And yes I just did.


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