On August 9, 2021, ESA/
Two bright stars are also visible in the background early in the sequence, before being eclipsed by the planet. The rightmost is Omicron Tauri, and above and to the left of it is Xi Tauri, which is actually a quadruple star system. Both are part of the Taurus constellation.
This was Solar Orbiter’s second Venus flyby, with an Earth flyby in November 2021 and six more Venus flybys planned from 2022 to 2030. The spacecraft uses Venus’ gravity to draw it closer to the Sun and tilt its orbit, swinging it up and out so as to “look down” on the Sun. From this vantage point, Solar Orbiter will eventually capture the first images of the Sun’s north and south poles.
On August 10, just one day later, ESA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s BepiColombo mission also flew by Venus. Learn more about the double flyby and see BepiColombo’s images in ESA’s coverage of the event.