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Sky Shot: Jupiter and Mercury Meet

by Robert J. Vanderbei

The previous zodiacal light posting mentioned that Mercury is currently well-placed to view shortly after sunset in the western sky.

Following up on that, I would like to share a picture I took of both Jupiter and Mercury just after sunset on March 19 at 7:39 p.m. ET.

The camera I used is a Canon DSLR (model 450D) sitting on a tripod outside my front door. It was a 0.4-second exposure at ISO 400. I used the lens that came with the camera in fully zoomed out mode (focal length of 24mm).

The pictures shown here are cropped and downsampled as appropriate for this blog.

Jupiter is getting lower every night and is probably too close to the sun to be seen now.

Mercury, on the other hand, is a now a bit higher in the evening sky than it was when this picture was taken. If the sky is clear, Mercury is pretty easy to spot about 30 minutes after sunset.

And, if you have a camera and a tripod, it is easy to take a nice picture of it too. Robert Vanderbei

Robert J. Vanderbei is chair of the Operations Research and Financial Engineering department at Princeton University and co-author of the National Geographic book Sizing Up the Universe. Vanderbei has been an astrophotographer since 1999, and he regularly posts new images on his astro gallery website.


  1. seven
    December 7, 2011, 2:54 pm


  2. sam
    March 29, 2011, 11:14 am

    wow whats the big deal