Five Planets Are Aligning Tomorrow
The solar system gives us some pretty amazing views from time to time, including the once in a lifetime Christmas moon that we recently witnessed.
For the next month or so, Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter will all be visible from Earth. And early tomorrow morning, they will all appear in a diagonal row for the first time in more than a decade.
Doug Murray / AP
It can be a little difficult for us in the Northern Hemisphere to view, so here are a few tips on how to spot the rare event:
1. The best time to see the alignment will be before dawn between January 20th and January 24th. Though you’ll be able to partially see it up to February 20th.
2. Look south. Mercury will be closest to the eastern horizon, while Jupiter will loiter in the west-southwest.
3. Try to find a flat horizon and a dark sky. If possible, head away from the lights of civilization.
4. Hold your arm up in a straight line from the horizon to the moon and the planets should fall along that line.
5. Don’t give up! It may take more than one early morning to see the full alignment.
6. You’ll be able to see the planets with the naked eye, but if you have a telescope, it’ll look even better.
7. You can use an app like SkEye to get updates on the best time to stargaze in your area.
Dr Alan Duffy / SkySafari
Dr. Alan Duffy, a research fellow at Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia, told Australian Geographic that the formation is a “quirk of the universe.”
All five planets are on different yearly cycles, so the alignment is definitely something that’s incredibly rare and well worth seeing.
The last time astronomers last saw such a perfect line-up was back in 2005. The event is so rare because for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, Mercury and Venus will often sit low behind the horizon.