Moon, Jupiter and Venus light up the sky
Planets aligned on Saturday to give stargazers a celestial delight. Jupiter is at the top and Venus is on the bottom.
February 27th, 2012
01:58 PM ET

Moon, Jupiter and Venus light up the sky

Venus, Jupiter and the crescent moon came together in a shining triangle on Saturday and Sunday night, putting on a show for stargazers from Virginia to California.

Photographer Scott Shoup went to a lake near his home in Superior, Colorado, hoping to get a shot of the moon and planets reflecting off the water.

In Iron Mountain, Michigan, Jason Asselin heard about the alignment but snow was in the forecast, so he was expecting a cloudy sky when he went outside on Saturday night. He was "surprised and happy to find out that the clouds actually weren't there, and I was able to see Venus, Jupiter and the Moon very clearly." He grabbed his camera and tripod and shared a few shots. (Venus is the one closest to the moon.)

Matt Hartman, a photographer in Los Angeles, California, set up his tripod on the balcony and shot photos every 10 seconds from 7 to 9:30 p.m. to create this time-lapse video of the objects  disappearing from view as clouds move in.

Hartman often shoots celestial happenings and says, "It’s always a real pain to get things in space because you're moving, the things in space are moving, and space is moving."

If you enjoy counting stars and tracing comet tails, we want to hear from you at CNN iReport. All cool space and science stories are welcome!

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Filed under: In Space • iReport • News
soundoff (90 Responses)
  1. Terri

    My daughter and I say the alignment and it was beautiful. We live in Kentucky. The sky was clear and the Moon, Venus and Jupiter were the only planets/stars visible in the sky in that area, off to the south there were another cluster of stars. I was so mad because my good camera was at home and my phone cam wouldn't get the pic. I would have given anything for the picture! I need to learn always to carry that darn camera!

    March 2, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
  2. Scott Shoup

    I can assure everyone that these photos are legit. I'm sure Jason and Matt would love to show you their camera's EXIF data, proving the only thing going on is photographic skill and practice. My photo is a 13 second exposure to get the movement in the clouds, and to make Venus & Jupiter a little more impressive. Had I just exposed to get the nice sliver of the moon, the rest of the photo would be pretty dark and uneventful. My photos EXIF data can be seen here at Flickr . Thanks!

    February 28, 2012 at 6:56 am |
    • reason

      Nice picture, thank you for sharing!

      February 28, 2012 at 8:21 am |
  3. mar

    I live in Las Vegas and I saw it lol...not quite rural here

    February 28, 2012 at 5:03 am |
  4. clearfog

    Did anyone ever notice that the planets have the same names as Gods? Coincidence? I think not.

    February 28, 2012 at 3:24 am |
    • Ragnar87

      Did you barely figure that out?.. Not being very sarcastic, but you need to read and research a little more on biology, history, and the star systems..

      February 28, 2012 at 4:15 am |
  5. Bee

    It's been very clear and easy to see from my driveway in the DC suburbs, which are not exactly free of light pollution.

    February 28, 2012 at 1:50 am |
  6. Be at the top

    " Jupiter at the top, Venus at the bottom" That is the way it should be. Jupiter is happy and satisfied. LOL

    February 28, 2012 at 12:41 am |
  7. lotus_65

    waxing gibbous tonight was highest in the sky, then venus and jupiter were spaced equally between the sliver of light and the horizon. not perfectly straight, but making a little arc downwards. the coolest thing was the thin arc of the moon was lined up and in balance with the perceived planetary curve.

    February 27, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
  8. Jim

    I was able to capture a time lapse of the conjunction on Sunday night.

    February 27, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
  9. kjyoti26

    it was awesome...........saw last saturday.

    February 27, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
  10. Phoenix427

    Nice photo – and I saw the real thing on Satrday night, but ... the moon was only a small waxing crescent on Saturday, so why does it look like a full moon in the picture?

    February 27, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • peter

      because it's over-exposed to make Jupiter & Venus stand out clearly...

      February 27, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • Scott Shoup

      Yeah Peter hit it on the head....I don't have Photoshop to layer a correct exposure of the moon, then layer a good exposure for Venus & Jupiter. To get a nice sliver of the Moon how it actually appeared Venus & Jupiter wouldn't stand out very well.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:41 am |
  11. GhostFire-Tiocfaídh ár lá

    Stay tuned young and old Astronomers. There will be a total Solar Eclipse on Sunday, May 20th, 2012. 100% totality will be in southern Oregon, northern California, the middle of Nevada, southern Utah, northern Arizona, the middle of New Mexico and western Texas. Degrees of totality will vary from 99%~75% depending on your location from the line of totality. Here's hoping for clear, sunny skies for everyone.

    February 27, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • peter

      that's nothing, theres a transit of venus later this year as well, you'll have to wait > 100 years for the next one.

      February 27, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
      • Enrico

        And that's nothing peter. The universe is expected to instantaneously fold in on itself on December 12, 2012. The light show will only last less than a nanosecond but it should be spectacular!

        February 27, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
      • Sharon

        Enrico, the date is December 21, 2012. 12/21/12

        February 28, 2012 at 12:55 am |
    • Henry

      Not correct. The eclipse in May is an ANNULAR eclipse, not a total one. Subjectively, the two experiences are very different. Annular eclipses are interesting, but not mind blowing. If you ever see a total solar eclipse, you'll never forget it.

      February 27, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • G-Star Gazer

      Oh Yeah! Well I'm going to the movies this weekend to see that silent movie that just won 5 Oscars... Has'nt been a silent movie in over 100 years... Now take that!

      February 28, 2012 at 12:41 am |
  12. f

    Ok, nice photo...but where's Uranus? LOL!!!! I am such a jerk ! LOL !!!!!

    February 27, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Jim

      There was a Venus-Uranus conjunction on February 9th. It would be just off the bottom of the frame of the picture above.

      February 27, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
  13. Swanand Rao

    There you go,... just uploaded a short iReport to show case a pretty nice pic of Venus and Moon.... Enjoy !!! Here is the link

    February 27, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  14. SMANCometh

    That picture is way off and the real thing looked so beautiful. Why does CNN do stupid things like posting inaccurate photos? On a clear night, the sky looks's hard to fathom it's only part of our solar system which lies in the Orion arm of our incredible galaxy.

    February 27, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • zeke

      Here is a better shot of the Moon and Venus, I couldn't get the third one in, it was a canon 75-300mm lens.!/photo.php?fbid=3365615629422&set=a.3365605509169.154075.1540090781&type=3&theater

      February 27, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  15. Swanand Rao

    This is amazing..... On Staurday evening I was out to take pictures of crescent of the Moon... And I was actually able to capture a very nice image of Moon and Venus... Which I had unknowingly taken to be a bright star...... If someone can tell me how to upload Pics I can share that pic with you all..... Let me know.

    February 27, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • vasechek

      They give you a link at the end of the post:

      February 27, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Sophia Dengo

      Hi there,

      You can submit an iReport with your at

      Thanks for reading!
      Sophia Dengo, CNN

      February 27, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Anthony Scruggs

      yes i am always fascinated by the heavenlies. If you could ... so kindly please email me those pics that you took. We live in Calgary Alberta and had a cloudy night.

      Your fellow brother in the Human Race,
      Anthony S.

      February 27, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
      • Swanand Rao

        Check out the short iReport I created it has the pic of Moon and Venus...

        February 27, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  16. lsn2me

    thank you for the clarification of the night celestial lights. i pulled over from my night driving to take several pictures of the night sky. i was hoping that the celestial formations i saw, related to the song "the age of aquarius" and the line "when the moon is in the seventh house and jupiter aligns with mars, then peace will guide the planets and love will steer the stars". there is too much avoidable pain and suffering inflicted by men, upon the living creatures of this planet earth. let us each act, now, to stop the suffering and voice our objection to the infliction upon humans and other creatures alike to make all of our lives more enjoyable.

    February 27, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Ruhin

      Boris Karloff as the creature. DRACO & THE MOON For those still pnyiag attention, what sets a waxing gibbous moon apart is that it appears high in the east at sunset, it’s more than half-lighted, but less than

      October 10, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  17. Praise God

    It was beautiful and made me pause and look up Saturday evening. Praise God for the beauty of creation including our eyes and minds to be able to witness it!

    February 27, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Bob


      February 28, 2012 at 6:43 am |
    • MotherNature

      Do you praise your god for natural disasters too?

      February 28, 2012 at 8:08 am |
      • Psalm 8:3

        MotherNature – I would like to reply to your question. Yes, as a Christian I believe that we are to give thanks in all situations. God sees the bigger picture. Even from disastrous situations come blessings. The following scripture often comforts those that have experienced hard times and disastrous events:

        "The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.
        He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.
        Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever." Psalm 23

        Now, back to the moon and planets. After leaving church Wednesday night, my husband and I were amazed at what appeared to be planets in the night sky. They were so definitely larger and brighter than the stars. I wished I had a camera that could take sufficient pictures of God’s celestial creations. One day... 🙂

        February 28, 2012 at 9:42 am |
      • timmy

        Quotes written by a bunch of men over 1500+ years is not the word of god and should not be taken as such. Mankind is nothing but a conniving, controlling, disgusting species that always has an agenda more than what is being said. The fact you believe the words of men are the words of god is baffling, laughable, and delusional and I suggest researching the topics you so adamantly cherish as truth. The fact is, you do not KNOW anything you say is without a doubt "true"

        February 28, 2012 at 10:57 am |
  18. So

    I thought Sunday's alignment was even more beautiful than Saturday's. The moon was up near Jupiter with Venus shining brightly below. Just lovely.

    February 27, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  19. midogs2

    It was pretty cool, I must admit. Walking the dogs and looked up during the gloaming.

    February 27, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  20. Trolls and Other Forms of Life Exist

    We were shown a beautiful picture of space...and then...did you see what showed up? A space cadet with a guitar and people talking about space cadets in politics! I have an idea...can someone who edits the science postings spare us from people who go completely into their own little political or performance world? Thanks in advance.

    I think the picture is awesome and really makes you see/experience the solar system – not just our little planet and moon.

    February 27, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • a eli

      I totally agree with you but when some idiot from camp Obama shoots off his mouth about someone who is not even running for president on a science page ....well someone has to step up and put the nut back in the rubber cell !!!

      February 27, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  21. Tom

    Why do the stupid-ass right-wingers even bother to make comments?

    February 27, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Coflyboy

      Because they are stupid-ass right wingers, a.k.a. uneducated mowrons.

      February 27, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • VeeZee

      For the same reason that stupid left wingers do.

      February 27, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Steelers7

      You need Anger Management training

      February 27, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
  22. Nikki

    The current moon is only at 30% full - no way this shot was done Saturday night unless some photo-shopping was done.

    February 27, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Eric

      The picture looks overexposed making the moon appear more than 30% perhaps.

      February 27, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Seamus

      True....not a pic from 2-25-12...moon look like it was smiling.....not even close to full.

      February 27, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • GhostFire-Tiocfaídh ár lá

      The reason the Moon looks 'Full', is because of the length of exposure needed for the photo/video. I took 100+ photos and depending on the length of exposure, the Moon was a sharp, crisp 'Crescent' or a 'Fuzzy Full' Moon. Short, high f/Stop (f/22/f32), exposures will show crescent Moon. Long exposures (1", 2", 4", 8" seconds) will cause light buildup and make the Moon look 'Fuzzy' Full.

      February 27, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  23. Joy in Sacramento

    Beautiful, thank you! I noticed them late last week when I was walking, and just stopped in my tracks and admired for awhile. More people need to look up from the petty everyday things, and pause to appreciate how awesome and wonderful the universe is.

    February 27, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  24. JOE

    President Obama is the greatest President in US history! Four more years baby!

    February 27, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • NoJoe

      Psssssst...Joe, your delusion is showing... might want to cover that up

      February 27, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Rob

      ha ha ha ha, LMAOROFF, you are funny! ahhh thanks for the laugh.

      February 27, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • vasechek

      I would like to thank Mr President for giving us this opportunity to observe and enjoy this wonderful celestial show. I will gladly vote for him again. Oh, and the weather where I was was great for viewing. Thanks again, Mr Obama, keep it up!

      February 27, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Elaine

      Full moons? Bah! New moons are where it's at—for stargazers, at least. The next few new moons (which means no pesky mooglinht ruining our view of the stars) are July 1, July 30, Aug. 28, and Sept. 27. Five days either side of a new moon means great stargazing at Cherry Springs and many other PA state parks. The Fourth of July weekend will be a great time to see the Milky Way if the skies are clear—which is another thing to consider. Isn't nature wonderful?

      October 10, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  25. RSO34

    That photo could not have been taken over the weekend. The moon had only the slightest crescent illuminated (about 5%) and this photo shows a full moon.

    February 27, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • vasechek

      Exactly what I was thinking. Not only that, but the relative position of the 3 lights was different when I saw it on Saturday, with Jupiter much closer to the straight line between the Moon and Venus. Planets do shift in the skies and different vantage points may result in a different relative positions, but the thin crescent moon can't become an almost perfect disk...

      February 27, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Wayne

      Unfortunately 1. The picture was taken at night. 2. The one taking the picture may not have had the high quality lenses or cameras with settings that take perfect pictures at night. Or this may have been the one taken as a reflection in the water. Either way it's very possible (as happened on my cell phone) that the moon appears to be full because it's so bright and the camera at night (unless it's a great camera) is going to take a picture of it like that with it that far away.

      February 27, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • GhostFire-Tiocfaídh ár lá

      The reason the Moon looks 'Full', is because of the length of exposure needed for the photo/video. I took 100+ photos and depending on the length of exposure the Moon was a sharp, crisp crescent or a fuzzy full Moon. Short, high f/Stop, exposures will show crescent Moon. Long exposures will cause light buildup and make the Moon 'look' full.

      February 27, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • vasechek

      There is of course a small amount of light that gets reflected off the "dark" side of the moon, but it can't possibly be as much light as Venus in full bloom. It doesn't look like a water shot... The clouds are pretty sharp... The planets are pretty sharp and the moon is pretty sharp (so this couldn't have been an hour-long exposure or wobbly hands). There is an even halo around the moon like you'd expect around a full moon... I guess I will have to play around with my camera to see if it can complete the circle for me like that.

      February 27, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • CliftonJ

      The photo is an obvious fake, which could not have been taken over this past weekend nor at any time. A full moon will never be in the same part of the sky as the planet Venus. The moon is full when it is opposite the sun. Venus is closer to the Sun than the Earth and will be close to the Sun in the sky when viewed from the Earth. Hence, we see Venus in the West just after the Sun has set. A full moon would be opposite the Sun and would be in the East after sunset.

      February 27, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
      • BigRed

        Wrong. The Moon passed over the ecliptic so Venus and Jupitor are in the same quadrant of the sky with Moon as on Saturday. I just finished observing the two planets around 2130 before Venus set in the North-West.

        February 27, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
  26. The Broom Rider

    The light at the top of the picture is not Jupiter, it is the exhaust from my broomstick.

    Sincerely Nancy P.

    February 27, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  27. Lila

    I saw them the other night when I was out walking. It's funny you'd think LA would be the worse place to see stars (and planets too) but some nights the sky is just full of them

    February 27, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • tifoso

      Odd that this article ignores that Mercury can be seen for a short while after sundown. Look near the west horizon. A few hours later, Mars rises in the East. All these planets form something of a straight line across the sky. Or are Mercury and Mars on the CNN feces roster?

      February 27, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  28. Canopy

    I was wondering what planets were represented dancing so flawlessly with the Moon. Beautiful

    February 27, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
  29. palintwit

    Astronomers at the world reknowned Sarah Palin Galactic Observatory / Bait Shop have wasted no time photographing this phenomenon. Sarah Palin showed up to personally assist them but she forgot to take the lens cover off.

    February 27, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • a eli

      Gee.... can your make your pathetic infatuation and feet tonging for the most incompetent president Obama in the history of our nation anymore obvious???????????

      February 27, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
      • Daniel

        Obama is the most "incompentent" President? What about Hoover, Filmore, Ford, Carter, Bush the Lesser? YOU are clearly demonstrating your lack of history, as well as an obvious bias.

        February 27, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
      • Adam

        Just one thing Daniel. All those presidents you mentioned? Obama has spent more money then all of them combined.

        February 27, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
      • bam

        fox news facts again.... bush jr has increased the national debt almost as high as reagan making him 2nd worst ever.... only problem is Reagan had something to show for it where bush didnt. all he had was MISSION ACCOMPLISHED on an air craft carrier while Osama bin Laden the ONLY master mind of 911 sat there laughing at how dumb he looked

        February 27, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
      • stvnkrs10

        Adam, Obama doesn't just go out and write checks or put it on the USA Visa card, the govt is to blame as well, they pass the bills, that includes the GOP as well. You tell us genius, what was he supposed to do to try and stop the landslide Bush Jr and President Chaney got us in to? Sit back and not do anything? You have to spend money to make money.

        February 27, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
      • tifoso

        Daniel – You left out Buchanon.

        February 27, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • a eli

      Good one jimmy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      February 27, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • stvnkrs10

      You forgot to mention the comment about how you can see Jupiters moons from the mainland of Alaska if you look very closely.

      February 27, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • stvnkrs10

      Jimmy – did someone lose their sense of humor along with their McCain/Milf 2008 bumper sticker? 🙁

      February 27, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • bam

      yeah pointing out how palin stu pid palin is is fashionable anymore cuz she and her sarah pac money can still come back into the race to make it 5 clowns..... then just need bachman back for 5 clowns and a JOKER.... gotta love her huge Joker Smile...

      February 27, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  30. dsashin

    @Pilot972 – Yes, Venus is the one closest to the moon! We'll add that to the post, thanks.

    February 27, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  31. Pilot972

    I saw this last night in Dallas, TX. I thought that they were planets being so close to the moon. So Venus is the planet closest to the moon i presume?

    February 27, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • The Broom Rider

      That's what the article states!

      February 27, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • GhostFire-Tiocfaídh ár lá

      The Moon was next to Venus on Saturday, Feb. 25th. Jupiter was the planet you saw next to the Moon on Sunday, Feb. 26th. The planets stayed in same position, the Moon was moving through them on succeeding night. Either way, you and I had a spectacular view.

      February 27, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  32. nono

    Planet X?

    February 27, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Vultron

      Can't tell if trolling or just stupid.

      February 27, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  33. Leucadia Bob

    February 27, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Bo

      Not good. Not good at all.

      February 27, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Just Me

      And this here why? Move on to take 3. Or maybe 4 or 5, but take it someplace else.

      February 27, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
  34. Len


    I can't wait to see more photos.

    February 27, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Bob

      Not only is "First!!!" for 12-yr olds, but you weren't even the first reply.

      February 27, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
      • Jeff S

        HAHA! Owned. Well played, Bob...well played.

        February 27, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  35. GeorgeGray

    Thank you for the lovely picture.

    February 27, 2012 at 2:52 pm |


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