Astronomy Picture of the Day

Moon, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, Milk Way
Image Credit & Copyright: Mihail Minkov

Explanation: It is not a coincidence that planets line up. That’s because all of the planets orbit the Sun in (nearly) a single sheet called the plane of the ecliptic. When viewed from inside that plane — as Earth dwellers are likely to do — the planets all appear confined to a single band. It is a coincidence, though, when three of the brightest planets all appear in nearly the same direction. Such a coincidence was captured about a month ago. Featured above, Earth’s Moon, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter were all imaged together, just before sunrise, from the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria. A second band is visible diagonally across this image — the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy. If you wake up early, you will find that these same planets remain visible in the morning sky this month, too.

Tomorrow’s picture: open space

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