The moon, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn photobombed SpaceX's Crew-3 rocket and it's just stunning

The Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon Endurance for SpaceX's Crew-3 astronaut launch for NASA shine with Venus (right), the moon, Saturn (center left)  and Jupiter (far left) in this stunning photo by a company photographer. (Image credit: SpaceX)

As the next Crew Dragon spaceship prepares to leave Earth, SpaceX shared a photo of the spacecraft beneath some of the other worlds of our solar system.

In the photo, which SpaceX shared Tuesday (Nov. 9), the company's Crew Dragon Endurance and its Falcon 9 rocket shines in spotlights as the bright moon, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn shine above its launch pad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Liftoff is set for tonight (Nov. 10) at 9:03 p.m. EST (0203 GMT). You can watch the launch live here and on the homepage, courtesy of NASA, or directly via the space agency.

"Jupiter, Saturn, the Moon, and Venus above Falcon and Dragon tonight," SpaceX wrote on Twitter

Live Updates: SpaceX's Crew-3 astronaut mission's launch day

The picture shows several celestial destinations shining above the rocket. "Jupiter, Saturn, the moon, and Venus above Falcon and Dragon tonight," SpaceX said in the caption. (Incidentally, Pad 39A used to host moonbound missions of Saturn V rockets during the crewed Apollo program, between 1968 and 1972.)

Not visible in the picture is Mars, where founder Elon Musk hopes one day to found a settlement; that said, the Red Planet did rise into view early this morning.

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Most of the worlds in our neighborhood lie on the ecliptic of the solar system, which means that from time to time you can see several planets (along with the moon or the sun) in the sky at the same time. November has been rich in such opportunities, with the moon passing close by several worlds.

SpaceX's Crew Dragon Endurance is seen with the moon as it awaits a Nov. 3, 2021 launch from Pad 39A of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. (Image credit: SpaceX)

Having all these worlds along the ecliptic means that from time to time, they also line up from Earth's perspective. In fact, the moon will go into a partial lunar eclipse Nov. 19 when it passes into our planet's shadow. That eclipse will also be visible from KSC.

By then, though, SpaceX hopes to finally send Crew-3 into space after weather and an undisclosed minor medical issue delayed the launch by a few weeks. The mission will send NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Kayla Barron and Thomas Marshburn, and the European Space Agency's (ESA) Matthias Maurer, for a six-month orbital mission. Maurer will been designated the 600th person in space.

The previous human SpaceX mission, Crew-2, splashed down off the Florida coast late Monday (Nov. 8). SpaceX just began running human missions into space in 2020, after a nine-year gap in American-soil space launches following the retirement of the space shuttle program in 2011.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: