Karthik Easvur in Hyderabad, India captured the moon on the sky’s dome on October 12, 2016. And he also caught the three planets that currently grace our evening sky: Mars, Saturn and Venus. This photo isn’t just beautiful. It’s also illustrative of one of astronomy’s most basic concepts, that of the ecliptic, or sun’s path.
The fact is, we live in a solar system where all the major planets orbit the sun on a nearly flat plane. That’s why – when we look up into the night sky – we see the planets travel more or less the same path that the sun takes during the day. The moon, also, follows this path.
Thus you can always look for planets along the sun’s path.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.