May 14, 2002
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Not only did the planetary alignment of spring 2002 provide a rare opportunity to see the five bright planets in the same part of the sky, but for a few days in mid-April and mid-May, the moon also joined the scene. Counting the crescent moon (overexposed in this scan), the 5 planets in the sky (Jupiter, Venus, Mars, Saturn, Mercury), and Earth in the foreground, a total of 7 planetary bodies are seen in this single photo! This arrangement was a special challenge both visually and photographically, since at the time Mercury was faint and close to the horizon. For this photo I traveled to the clear, dark skies of the Arizona desert, 30 miles north of Phoenix. A saguaro cactus completes the composition.
Date: May 14, 2002
Time: 8:16 p.m. MST (55 minutes after sunset)
Location: Carefree Highway, Arizona
Camera: Olympus OM-1 35mm SLR on fixed tripod
Film: Fuji Provia 100 slide
Focal Length: 40mm
Exposure time: 20 seconds
Scanner: Nikon Coolscan LS-10E