In one of the rarest celestial events to occur, five planets will form a rare coincidence in the sky starting Friday. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn will align together, giving stargazers the unique opportunity to see five planetary bodies in the sky from Earth at once.
This will not happen again until 2040. The last such conjunction of five planets took place in 2004.
Since the planets orbit the Sun in the same plane, they will all appear to line up one after the other in the sky above Earth. However, they will all be separated by billions of kilometers, spinning in their own unique orbits. While the conjunction began today, it will continue till Monday and will be best seen in the hours before and after sunrise.
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Where can you see the five planets?
If you’re a resident of the Northern Hemisphere, rare planetary conjunctions will be best seen 45 to 90 minutes before sunrise. Take a high position and look east, very close to the horizon. The important thing is to get up before sunrise to see this phenomenon with the naked eye, as the sun will rise, it will obscure the presence of the planets.
Jupiter (L) and Saturn are seen from Griffith Observatory during the Great Coincidence on the same day as the winter solstice, December 21, 2020. (Photo: AFP)
According to EarthSky, the line of the planets extends south from sunrise as seen from the Northern Hemisphere to the north as seen from the Southern Hemisphere. While Mercury will appear closest to the Sun, Venus will be the brightest with Jupiter, while Mars will appear red.
The alignment has been occurring since June 10, when Mercury began to appear above the sunrise point, gradually separating itself from the Sun.
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People in the Southern Hemisphere will have a better view of the planets than those in the North because the planets will rise higher in the early morning sky. While most of the planets will maintain the same brightness throughout June, Mercury will gradually brighten each morning. Mercury will get brighter as it gets closer to the Sun.
Moon to join planetary party
The Moon can be taken as a guide for locating the planets. According to experts, the lunar body will pass through Saturn on 18th, Jupiter on 21st, Mars on 22nd, Venus on 26th and Mercury on 27th.
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