Five Planets To Be  Rarely Aligned  With The Moon For First Time In Two Decades

Five Planets To Be Rarely Aligned With The Moon For First Time In Two Decades

By  Oliver Adams-

Five planets will be re-aligned and viewable from Britain in order of their distance from the sun since December 2004. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn will line up in order of their distance from the sun (pictured in this graphic)

Observers will be able to view all five worlds  shining in a row because they all travel on the plane of the solar system, known as the ecliptic.

“They say that one person in 1,000 sees Mercury ever in their entire life and knows they’re seeing it. That’s how elusive that one planet is,” said Mike Shanahan, Planetarium Director at Liberty Science Center.

Shanahan said not only are all five planets visible to the naked eye, but they are in the same order they appear in our solar system.

“The last time this happened actually was December 2004. It’s going to happen again in 2040,” he explained.

Each planet is millions of miles away from the others. A crescent moon will also be visible between Venus and Mars. It will act as a stand-in for Earth in the display of the first five planets from the sun. The peak time to see the conjunction is after dawn and it will last about an hour before sunlight washes out the sky.

Throughout June, the moon has embarked on a planetary “meet and greet” in the predawn sky first passing Saturn on June 18, then Jupiter on June 21 and Mars on June 22. The moon will continue its tour in the coming days, passing Venus on June 26 and then ending its tour with Mercury on June 27.

However, in case it is cloudy that day, experts say people should still check the southeastern horizon any morning between now and then to see if they can catch of glimpse of the rare sight.

Amateur astronomers do not need to use binoculars or a telescope if they don’t have them, she said, before adding: ‘Check the weather forecast for clear or even partially clear skies, and set an alarm — it will be worth getting up for.

The moon is even set to join the planetary party, and we’ll be staying up to see the spectacular display – let’s be honest, it’ll likely be better than a Friday trip to Spoons. compass app on your phone and head to timeanddate.com to find out where and when you should look for the celestial bodies.

At this point, you might be wondering why the planets aligning is a big deal? Well, it’s because it’s the first time in nearly two decades that the planets have appeared in their normal order – you know, the order we spent years learning only to find out that Pluto would be cruelly taken away.

A similar sight occurred in 2004, but was not as close as expected tomorrow.

NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller described the alignment as a ‘free tour’ of the solar system.

She explained: “Planets are often getting closer to each other and farther away from each other, but this is just a particularly fun order. It’s just coincidence.

 

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