A Pleiades and Venus Conjunction (May 19, 2008)
The Pleiades star cluster (also known as the Seven Sisters and Messier 45) and Venus are gliding behind the Sun and moving towards each other in a conjunction or visual meeting. We cannot see this from Earth since these objects are too close to the Sun's brightness. But SOHO's LASCO coronagraph, which blocks out the Sun and a portion of the Sun's corona, had a fine view of this (May 18, 2008). Since LASCO was built to observe the faint solar corona, its exposure times are not tuned to handle objects as bright as Venus. Venus is so bright that it saturates the CCD camera, making it appear much bigger and also causing "bleeding" along pixel rows (the bright horizontal streak on either side of the planet).
Unfortunately, LASCO's doors are closed for station keeping and momentum management maneuvers until May 21, so we won't get any more images until it resumes operations then. The SOHO movie clip shows their approach from May 15-18, 2008. On May 22-23 the Sun-Pleiades-Venus triangle will shrink in width to only 5 degrees. So be sure to tune in then.
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.