Planets

Planets

All photos are © Marshall Faintich

Click on each picture for a larger image.

Mercury and Venus

Mercury is so small and close to the sun that imaging more than just a featureless disk is beyond the capability of my equipment. Venus is completely cloud covered and therefore, seeing surface features with optical equipment is never possible. Both planets exhibit phases as seen from the Earth. Full resolution photos are shown here.



Mercury
14 July 1991

Venus (gibbous phase)
28 February 2023

Venus (crescent phase)
6 July 2023

Mars

Seasonal variations on Mars produce changes in its northern and southern polar ice caps. Mars also exhibits shape phases as seen from Earth. Mars has two moons, Phobos and Deimos.



Mars
1986-88

C/2022 E3 (ZTF) & Mars
10 February 2023


Mars
13 November 2022

Jupiter

Jupiter's surface is entirely gaseous, and various patterns in the atmosphere can be seen. The most prominent features are two dark bands and the giant red spot which is an enormous storm that has persisted for centuries. In 1989, one of Jupiter's distinctive bands faded away, and was visible again a few years later.

This large planet rotates 360 degrees in only 10 hours, so its giant red spot is only visible for 5 hours at a time. Jupiter has between 80 and 100 moons. The four closest and largest moons are Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.



Jupiter
1986-89

Jupiter
2022

Jupiter
1 September 2023

Jupiter
6 September 2023

Jupiter
2 October 2023

Jupiter
10 October 2023

Jupiter
23 October 2023

Jupiter
2-3 November 2023

Jupiter
3 November 2023

Jovian Moons


23 October 2023

2 November 2023

3 November 2023

25 September 1987

5 December 1989

7 September 2021

25 August 2022

8 September 2022

19 September 2022

5 October 2022

1 November 2022

9 November 2022

13 November 2022

1 September 2023

6 September 2023


Shadow of Europa on Jupiter
2 October 2023

When one of Jupiter's large moons is between the Sun and Jupiter, a shadow of the moon is cast on the surface of the planet.


Shadow of Io
on Jupiter
28 August 1986

Watch a short movie of the shadow of Europa
moving across Jupiter on 2 October 2023


Comet Shoemaker–Levy broke apart in July 1992 and large pieces collided with Jupiter in July 1994, causing several large impact scars in the atmosphere that persisted for many months. In my photo taken on 22 July 1994, you can see dark impact scar areas at the top of the planet; two scars are just to the right of center and the other scar is near the left top edge.


Scars from Comet
Shoemaker–Levy
22 July 1994

Saturn

Saturn has at least 83 moons. As seen from Earth, the tilt angle of its rings changes. Every 13 to 15 years, Earth passes through the plane of Saturn's rings, and when seen edge on, they almost disappear.



Saturn
1986-89

Saturn
4 August 2023

Saturn
1 September 2023

Saturn
5 September 2023

Saturn
2 October 2023

Saturn
3 November 2023

Saturnian Moons



26 June 1987


1 September 2023


2 October 2023


3 November 2023

5 September 2023
shows Rhea movement
between 23:02 and 23:59

Uranus and Neptune

Uranus and Neptune are so distant that imaging more than just a featureless disk is beyond the capability of my equipment. Full resolution photos are shown here.



Uranus
8 November 2022

Neptune
23 March 1986

Planetary Conjunctions


Saturn, Mars, Uranus &
Lagoon and Trifid nebulae
23 February 1988

Saturn, Uranus, Neptune &
Lagoon and Trifid nebulae
10 September 1988

Saturn, Uranus, Neptune &
Lagoon and Trifid nebulae
10 September 1988

Venus, Mars &
Jupiter
17 June1991

Venus, Mars
Jupiter & Mercury
6 July 1991



Jupiter & Mercury
14 July 1991

Jupiter & Saturn
22 December 2020

Jupiter & Venus
21 February 2023

Jupiter, Venus & Moon
21 February 2023

Jupiter & Venus
1 March 2023

Jupiter & Venus
1 March 2023

Occulations and Appulses (visual close approaches)



Lunar Appulse with
Mars 7 December 2022

Total Lunar Eclipse
8 November 2022
Lunar Appulse with Uranus


Saturnian Occultation
28 Sagittari
3 Jul 89


Lunar Occultation
Jupiter 18 August 1990

Lunar Occultation
Venus 25 April 1987

Neptune & Halley's Comet
23 March 1986

Moon and Jupiter
1 October 2023