In what could be one of the rarest celestial events to occur, five planets will form rare conjunction in the skies from Friday. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn will align together, giving stargazers a unique opportunity to see five planetary bodies in the skies from Earth at once.
This will not happen again till 2040. The last such planetary conjunction of five planets happened in 2004.
Since the planets orbit the Sun in a single plane, they will all appear to be lined up one after another in the sky above Earth. However, they will all be separated by billions of kilometers rotating in their own unique orbits. While the conjunction began today, it will continue till Monday and will be best visible in the wee hours before and after sunrise.
WHERE CAN YOU SEE THE FIVE PLANETS?
If you are a resident in the Northern hemisphere, the rare planetary conjunction will be best visible between 45 and 90 minutes before sunrise. Take a high spot and look towards the east, very close to the horizon. The critical thing is to wake up early before sunrise to see the event with naked eyes, as the moment the sun comes up it will obscure the appearance of the planets.
According to EarthSky, the line of planets stretches up from the sunrise toward the south as seen from the Northern Hemisphere toward the north as seen from the Southern Hemisphere. While Mercury will appear nearest to the Sun, Venus will be the brightest along with Jupiter, while Mars will look reddish.
The alignment has been happening since June 10, when Mercury started appearing above the sunrise point, slowly separating itself from the sun.
People in the Southern Hemisphere will have a better view of the planets as compared to those in the north as the planets will rise higher in the pre-dawn sky. While most of the planets will retain a similar brightness throughout June, Mercury will slowly brighten each morning. Mercury will grow brighter as it edges ever nearer to the sun.
MOON TO JOIN THE PLANETARY PARTY
The Moon could be taken as a guide to locate the planets. According to experts, the lunar body will pass Saturn on the 18th, Jupiter on the 21st, Mars on the 22nd, Venus on the 26th, and Mercury on the 27th.