Our world is filled with imaginary yet real things. The ecliptic — the imaginary line along which the planets skate across the sky — is one such imaginary thing that nonetheless has a good deal to tell us about the world. This line is semi-visible in this photo: by tracking the three objects across the night sky, you can sense how the Sun traveled this same line earlier in the day, and now it’s the chance for the planets to show up the Sun along the same line. Few things ever helped me see the beauty in the existing universe so much as being able to pick out this line in the night, and know that the world had an order and a beauty to it that I could only dream of.
It’s rare for me to get good pictures of the night sky. My camera just isn’t good enough. But on February 23, I got this picture of the Moon (bottom), Jupiter (upper left), and Venus (middle) just a little after sundown. It’s such a beautiful way of seeing the ecliptic — the line imagined across the sky, along which the planets travel — that I couldn’t resist snapping the photo.