Venus and Mercury Sparkle Over Rome in New Photo

Venus and Mercury Sparkle Over Rome in New Photo
Venus (top left) and Mercury shine over Rome, Italy in this photo taken on March 31, 2010 by Italian astronomer Giancula Masi. (Image credit: Giancula Masi.)

An Italian astronomer has caught the rare sight of Venusand Mercury together in the night sky in a snapshot of both planets shiningdown on Rome.

Astronomer Giancula Masi snapped the stunning photo ofVenus and Mercury on Wednesday night while looking west after sunset in Rome,Italy. The result: a serene scene of planets and architecture.

?You can enjoy both the planets and the skyline, with themagnificent St. Peter?s [Basilica] dome on the right,? Masi told ofthe skywatching trip to Campidoglio (?capitol?) in the heart of Rome. [Mysteries of Mercury.]

Venusand Mercury are locked in a celestial dance of sorts over the next fewweeks, treating skywatchers to a chance to spot the usually tricky planetarytarget Mercury by using bright Venus as a guide. This viewing map shows where to look tosee the two planets.

Between March 28 and April 12, Mercury willbe within 5 degrees of Venus (the length of your clenched fist held at arm'slength is about 10 degrees). 

So Venus is a convenient guidepost to locate thenormally hard-to-find planet [moreVenus photos]. skywatching columnist Joe Rao hasthis advice for avid hunters of Venus and Mercury:

?Around 30 to 45 minutes after sunrise looklow toward the west-northwest horizon,? he wrote last week. ?You willimmediately spot brilliant Venus. Hovering below and to its right you will seea bright yellowish ?star.? You?re looking at our solar system?s so-called ?elusive?planet.? Read more about Mercury.

Masi used a digital reflex camera and a wide-field lensto catch the planetary dance of Venus and Mercury.

?It was a memorable experience for me to go close to ?Campidoglio?and looking up for those cosmic jewels, finding them above that stunning panorama!?Masi said.

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.