Celestial Alignment

Mercury, Spica & Venus

Image exposure:
2.0 sec; f/1.4; ISO 400
Canon 60D, 50mm lens
Image field of view:
40° x 27°
Image date:

No planning for this image. I popped outside just before dinner for a quick Western view of the sky and noticed the bright alignment. I quickly set up the camera on its tripod and took a few images with varying exposures and selected the above as the best.

Venus is top and the elusive Mercury is bottom (just skimming to the right of the jacaranda tree). In between is the first magnitude star Spica with a slightly blue hue.

Mercury was shining at magnitude +0.2 in a fairly darkish looking sky, 70 minutes after sunset – one of the best views possible for this little planet which never strays far from the Sun. I wish I could have used my telescope on it.

I love taking wide angle DSLR images of the night sky, because you never know what you might “discover”. The surprise this time was when I checked in Sky Safari and noticed that the asteroid 4Vesta was in the field of view. Surely my DSLR wouldn’t pick out tiny Vesta – but it did!

The following two image crops will lead you to Vesta.

The first image below shows bright Spica (bottom left) and an obtuse triangle of stars (far right centre) which is cropped and magnified in the smaller image below.

Crop 1
Spica (bottom left) & Vesta (right)

Crop 2
Minor Planet Vesta (centre)

Vesta orbits in the Asteroid Belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. It is a mere 468 km in diameter and shines in the sunlight at magnitude 8.2. It was first discovered in 1807.

Cosmic Focus Observatory

34° S

Above us only sky….

Thanks for reading!
Images © Roger Powell
I’m one of the founder members of Macarthur Astronomical Society


  1. Good catch, Roger.
    Last Thursday, I held a little viewing party for the students in our English Language Learners class. We help them practice conversational English. About 10 showed up. Some brought younger kids. We looked at the Moon, Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter. No police came by to break up our party. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Public outreach was always a pleasure and kids ask better questions than adults! 🙃

      Regrettably my last such event was over two years ago and I will not be going to any until I know this covid crisis is completely over. Anyway, as it stands, here in Sydney we have been in enforced lockdown since 26th June.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Everything about the photo enchants me, I have never seen a Jacaranda tree. I am transported. Happy springtime.. Thank you,


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