Planet Parade (Part 1) (October 13, 2006)
Hi-res TIF image(5.5M)
The most obvious object in the field of view of our LASCO instrument is the very bright object moving from right to left. This is Venus, orbiting behind the Sun. The light spreading out to each side is a distortion caused by the planet's reflected light overwhelming our sensitive detector. Since SOHO tracks along around the Sun fairly close to the Sun-Earth line of sight, this view is similar to what you would see from Earth if the Sun were blocked out as have done). It is not as noticeable but Mars is also visible, moving along at a much slower pace (and at an orbit much further away from the Sun than Venus's orbit) so that it appears to be moving left to right, but in fact it is not. It is SOHO's motion around the Sun causing it to appear that way. A coronal mass ejection (CME) blasting from the Sun on Oct. 10th helped add to the mix!
While SOHO has observed several planets at the same time as their orbits place them in our field of view, only once (in 2000, see a past Hotshot) have we observed as many as four planets at the same time. Well, these two are just a prelude. On November 11-12, 2006), we will again see four planets for about one day. Mercury will enter our field of view on Nov 5. (In fact, it will cross directly in front of the Sun on November 8th, a transit that can be seen from all of the U.S. Watch out for news coverage on this as the date approaches.) And Jupiter will come into view on Nov. 11th. Something to look forward to!
SOHO began its Weekly Pick some time after sending a weekly image or video clip to the American Museum of Natural History (Rose Center) in New York City. There, the SOHO Weekly Pick is displayed with some annotations on a large plasma display.
If your institution would also like to receive the same Weekly Pick from us for display (usually in Photoshop or QuickTime format), please send your inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org.