gathering of planets

The photo above shows a gathering of planets and the waning crescent Moon as captured from Tivoli, Namibia in Africa, just before dawn on May 30, 2011. The “Big Five” in Africa refers to the top five big game animals; lion, leopard, rhinoceros, Cape buffalo, and elephant.  Photographer: Eduard von Bergen.

On this late autumn morning (Southern Hemisphere), however, I was able to a bring down a prize night-sky quarry — Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and our Moon all in the same frame. Venus shines brightly at magnitude -3.9, Jupiter at -2.2; Mercury at -1.0, and Mars glows dimly at 1.4 magnitude. Only five percent of the slender Moon was illuminated. The shallow arching band of red, gold and yellow at the bottom of the photo is the twilight arch. Sunlight from the rising Sun (still about six degrees below the horizon) is scattered by the cloud-free atmosphere.