Skywatchers await a cosmic treat this month: a rare alignment of four planets in the pre-dawn sky.
Starting around Sunday morning, stargazers will be able to see Mars, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn appear in a straight line across the southeast sky before sunrise. The mid-month alignment is a relatively unusual opportunity for people to see multiple planets in the sky with the naked eye – a precursor to a rare planetary alignment that will occur this summer.
To see the planetary quartet, northern hemisphere sky watchers must head outside about an hour before sunrise and look to the southeast, in the direction of sunrise.
Looking east on the flat horizon, Jupiter, Venus, Mars and Saturn will appear ‘pointed in a line across the morning sky’ According to NASA. If the conditions were clear, all four planets would be bright enough to be seen with the naked eye, without the aid of binoculars or telescopes.
same alignment It can be seen before sunrise in the Southern Hemisphere. There, the Sun’s path in the sky is at a steeper angle to the horizon, compared to the Northern Hemisphere, which means that the series of planets will spread out above the sunrise point.
Either way, Jupiter will be the second brightest planet in the celestial pool, but it will appear lowest on the horizon, which can make it difficult to spot. That will change as the month goes on, according to NASA.
“As we approach the last week of April, Jupiter will be high enough above the horizon in the hour before sunrise to facilitate its observation,” the space agency said in its message. Monthly Skywatching Tips.
Although this month’s skywatching event makes it seem like the planets form an elegant line in space, it’s actually just a matter of perspective. Each planet in the solar system revolves around the sun on the same flat plane, which means that when each sometimes oscillates in their orbits, they appear to form a straight line in Earth’s sky. However, this orderly mode would look very different from any other observation point in space.
The planets will be viewable in the pre-dawn sky throughout the month, and the April alignment will set the stage for an even more exciting sky-viewing event this summer.
From late June to early July, five planets — Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn — will be visible in the sky before sunrise in a major alignment that occurs only every few years.
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