The Super Conjunction of Jupiter and Venus

Jupiter with three Galilean moons (left) and Venus (right). Click the image for a somewhat larger version.

The super conjunction of Jupiter and Venus, March 1, 2023 at 7:24 pm. Venus and Jupiter pass each other on a regular basis so conjunctions aren’t rare. But this time they passed unusually close to each other, making it a Super Conjunction. They were 1/2 degree apart. They won’t be this close to each other again until February 2032. I had a telescope set up for my grandsons and they were thrilled to see three of Jupiter’s four “Galilean Moons” (named for Galileo who spotted them through his telescope). The Galilean Moons from top to bottom in this photo are Callisto, Ganymede, and Io. (Europa was not visible.)

The moons change position every night and you can still see and photograph Jupiter and the moons for several more days. Jupiter is lower in the sky every night and will soon disappear in the light of the setting sun.

Screen capture of Stellarium, Jupiter and its moons for March 1, 2023.

You can tell which moon is which by using Stellarium which is a free download for your computer. Just zoom in on Jupiter until you can see the moons and their names.

You can photograph Jupiter and the moons with a camera and telephoto lens mounted on a tripod. With the right settings you do not need a clock drive. You do have to make sure you do not use a shutter speed longer than one second.

Focusing can be an issue and autofocus is not reliable. Turn off autofocus and if your lens has image stabilization, turn that off too. Manually focus the lens at infinity. Look through the viewfinder and center Jupiter in the frame. Focus as best you can to make Jupiter look as small (i.e. sharply focused) as possible in the viewfinder. If your camera has is, turn on “live view” mode so Jupiter shows up on the LCD on the back of your camera. Zoom in to 10X magnification and focus again on Jupiter and the moons. For details on using live view focusing with a magnified image, read the article at the link below.

To get an image like the one at the top of this article you will need to crop in to the center of the image. The amount of cropping will depend on how long your telephoto lens is. Experiment with the exposure. 1 second at f/8 at ISO 3200 is a good starting point, but try other shutter speeds (but no longer than 1 second) and ISO settings. Use your camera’s 2 second delay so your camera has 2 seconds to settle down after you push the shutter button. Using a cable release with the 2 second delay is even better.

Photo Data: Canon 7D Mark II camera, Canon EF 100-400mm lens, f/8, 1 second, ISO 3200.


How To Get Critical Focus in “Live View” Mode with a Magnified Image