A rare sight for amateur astronomers, as the five planets level up

Amateur astronomers have been preparing for a celestial treat since Friday as the five planets visible to the naked eye line up according to their distance from the Sun in the pre-dawn sky.

For those who can face an early start and have a clear view of the horizon to the east and southeast, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn can be seen before the weakest, Mercury, disappears in the glow. Sunrise.

It is not uncommon to see two or three planets close to each other, but five, which can be seen with the naked eye, have not appeared well since the northern hemisphere since December 2004.

“That’s really great,” said Prof. Beth Biller, personal chair of the exoplanet characterization at the University of Edinburgh’s Astronomical Institute. “We now know of many other stars that host several planets.” This is a rare opportunity to see the same closer to home, with all five planets in our solar system “visible to the naked eye” at once. “

Planet graphics

The planets of the solar system orbit the Sun in a remarkably narrow plane, which means that when viewed from Earth, it appears to lie near an imaginary line in the sky called the ecliptic. These five planets will rise above the horizon in the early hours of Friday morning, although it can be difficult to see them all until the end of the moon.

Dr Greg Brown, a public astronomer at the Royal Museums Greenwich, said Venus and Jupiter would be the easiest to see, with Venus above the horizon at about 4:00 p.m., and Mars and Jupiter visible at about 2:45.

Saturn rises above the horizon around 1:30 in the morning, but like Mars, it will be difficult to see at dusk. Mercury will be the most difficult to recognize, because it will not come out until around 4:30, when it will be difficult to see in the light before dawn and will remain close to the horizon.

“Your only chance to see all five planets at once is during a very narrow window after Mercury came out, but before the Sun,” Brown said.

“In the case of weaker planets, a telescope or telescope may be enough to overcome twilight, but be very careful when trying to observe Mercury in particular in this way.” Make sure the sun is below the horizon to avoid accidentally looking directly at it, which would be very dangerous for your eyes. ”

Mercury will be easier to see later in June as it rises in the sky and brightens. On June 24, the crescent moon between Venus and Mars will join the five planets, which, according to Dr. Samanthy Rolfe, Chief Technical Officer of the University of Hertfordshire Observatory, will create an “extraordinary stage”. Because Mercury will be as weak as dawn, Rolfe recommends using an app like Stellarium to find its position in the sky.

“You don’t need binoculars or binoculars if you don’t have them – just enjoy the view from anywhere, even if you can’t see all five from your location,” Rolfe said. “This is a rare sight that can help us feel connected to nature and the world around us, and enjoying the night sky in general is a great exercise for well-being.

“Knowing that so many people look at the same sky as our ancestors and our descendants did is something to see. Take a look at the weather forecast, whether it’s clear or even partially clear, and set an alarm – it’s worth getting up. “

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