Venus-Mars | 2015 Conjunction

Early in February I suggested you watch bright Venus in the evening sky as it passed very close to Mars in a beautiful conjunction. Venus came within a lunar diameter of Mars on February 21st. For those fortunate to have clear skies, you could watch from night to night as the event played out. Here in Iowa we had a mix of clouds, some clear days, and some single digit temperatures with wind. That is typical winter weather for the midwest.

I hoped for clear skies so I could photograph the pairing each evening and then combine them into one image showing the movements of each planet. Nature cooperated some of the time.

Overall Perspective

This graphic from an online orrery shows the locations of the planets on February 17th. In this oblique view, each planet is moving counter-clockwise around the Sun. Venus moves faster than Mars and passes it by from the point of view of Earth. I suggest you visit the website and play with it. Advance the days and see how each planet moves.


This 30 sec video will give you a good sense of how the two planets were moving relative to each other from the point of view of the Earth. Slower Mars moved almost horizontally to the right each day. Faster Venus moved much more and upward, away from the Sun. I recorded my desktop planetarium software as it advanced the scene one day at a time starting February 17th until the 25th. Notice at mid-video the Moon was also in the tight grouping. It was cloudy for me that day. I missed it.


My Typical View

Each clear evening at 6:30 I set the camera on the tripod and dressed warmly. I walked down the street away from the lights and set up on the sidewalk. I zoomed in to 6x optical. I use white balance of Tungsten as it gives me a better rendition of the blue of the sky in my eyes. Here is the actual view February 22.

ISO 200 | f/2.8 | Tungsten | 1 sec

ISO 200 | f/2.8 | Tungsten | 1 sec


The Combined Views

I was fortunate to have five evenings with clear enough conditions: Feb. 18, 19, 22, 23, 24. With Photoshop, I layered the five images carefully aligning Mars across and slightly up each time to match the video above. That also put Venus in the correct locations. The final image was converted to grayscale. The fuzzy image on the 19th was due to a cloud layer.



Bonus Event

The International Space Station made a pass almost directly overhead on the evening of the 23rd fairly close to the Moon. I set the camera for a 15 sec exposure which overexposed the Moon. The ISS moved from right to left. For ISS passes over your location, visit this link. I prefer the email alerts.

Click to embiggen

Click to embiggen


13 thoughts on “Venus-Mars | 2015 Conjunction

  1. I intended to try to see this, the conjunction, but forgot on the clear days and when I remembered it was cloudy. I am glad that you got a few days to enjoy it.

  2. One night, it cleared enough for the moon to peek through for about ten minutes, and that was that. It’s been cloudy and gloomy for entirely too long.Ah, well, There are your posts to enjoy, and conjunctions to come.

    We do have a completely clear sky tonight, and the sunset was lovely — a deep, saturated orange. It’s cold, though — so much so that there were snow flurries only a couple of hours north this morning.

    • Sounds like you’ve been socked in too long. We got kind of lucky here at just the right time. It was quite cold. But, I was only out for about 5-10 minutes each time.

      You are right about conjunctions to come.

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