Venus and the Pleiades - II

Conjunctions between Venus and the Pleiades (M45) star cluster at favorable elongations from the Sun are relatively rare astronomical events. The last one occurred in April 2004 and the next is in 2020 (source: More Mathematical Astronomy Morsels, Jean Meeus, 2002). The Pleiades is one of the most famous night sky asterisms and is also known as the Seven Sisters, Subaru and M45 (from the Messier Catalog of Deep Sky Objects).

In April 2012, Venus and the naked-eye star cluster were again in close proximity for several days, and with Venus favorably placed in the evening sky just days after its Greatest Eastern Elongation from the Sun on March 26.

The image above shows the close conjunction of Venus and the Pleiades (M45) on the evening of 2012 April 3 (local time) from Portal, AZ. A Nikon D90 and a Sigma APO 400mm lens were used to capture the event (North is up). The exposure was 4 minutes at f/22 (ISO 800). Camera tracking was accomplished with a Losmandy G-11 equatorial mount. This image also appeared on (April 3, 2012).

It takes approximately 3 days for Venus to pass through the Pleiades (April 2-4). Check Planetary Conjunctions for more photos of this lovely event.

For an almanac of other interesting sky happenings for each year, see Calendar of Astronomical Events.

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