Sometimes, the planets align—and that’s not just a saying. As astronomer Gianluca Masi of The Virtual Telescope Project shows, the worlds in our Solar System came together on December 28, 2022, in a spectacular “planetary parade.” Using a fish-eye and zoom lens, he captured the naked-eye sight of the Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, and Mercury from his home in Rome.
Rome’s night sky on December 28 was finally clear after cloudy weather. “It was one of the last opportunities to have a decent look,” Masi wrote, “as Mercury was already quickly fading and moving back into the solar glare.” That’s when he decided to employ the help of his panoramic and 70–200mm zoom lens. The result is an elongated view of the landscape with five faint dots representing each planet as well as the Moon, which is the brightest dot in the sky.
“Soon after sunset, the Moon, Mars, Jupiter, and Venus were easy to see, with Saturn joining the show a bit later,” Masi recalled. Mercury was more of a challenge. “On the previous evenings, I could spot it easily by naked eye among the clouds, this time it was significantly fainter and I could barely see it with the unaided eye just before Venus moved behind the trees.”
Of the seven planets in our Solar System, five of them were visible to the naked eye. Masi had to use binoculars to see Uranus and Neptune, but the planets could be seen with them.
Scroll down for a video in which Masi takes you through all of the planets in his incredible image.