After almost one decade, a rare celestial congregation of five planets — Saturn, Mars, Jupiter, Mercury and Venus will be visible to naked eye in the sky and more prominent through telescope tonight, said astronomers.
Three planets — Saturn, Mars and Jupiter — can be seen today clearly while those lucky enough can expect to seee Mercury and Venus too in the congregation tomorrow and day after, if not dampened by a cloudy sky.
Tonight’s get together of five planets, all at once in a rare coincidence and visible to naked-eye, will appear in the sky if clouds do not spoil the party. It will provide spectators a unique chance to see Earth’s closest companions in one easy sitting. The gathering will be visible for two days for an hour after sunset, beginning August 6.
The NASA illustration shows where the five naked-eye planets and the Moon will lie in the western horizon. Saturn will be visible almost directly overhead, but the planets will similarly appear in a line across the sky from all locations.
Since ancient times, the naked-eye planets have intrigued and inspired onlookers all over the world. But only sporadically, usually every few years or so, do their orbits take them to the same side of the Sun. When this happens, the planets stretch across the morning or evening skies depending on which side of the Sun they reside. More rare are planetary alignments in which the five planets assemble in a very small corner of the sky.
To catch the planetary get-together, you’ll need a good view of the sky, free of buildings and bright city lights (you should still be able to see the planets through urban light pollution).
Begin by looking to the western horizon each evening just after sunset. Seated in a row up and across the sky will be Mercury, Venus, Mars and Saturn. Saturn will lie almost directly overhead. Mercury and Venus will be towards west of Jupiter and not very bright. Venus will appear in the western edge. Together, the planets will span about 135 degrees. About an hour after dusk, Mercury will dip below the western horizon.
Kerala’s Priyadarshini Planetarium is organising an evening watch program officially while many planetariums will join the spectacle with speacial shows during the nights across the country.
The congregation of five planets will be visible only for two days as Mercury will move into oblivion two days after behind a bright Moon. Other planets — Mars, Saturn, Jupiter and Venus — will be visible till the Full Moon Day (Pournami) and Venus will slowly disappear leaving only three of them seen brightly in the sky after september 15.
Mars, which was moved closest to Earth in May is still seen in the vicinity though it is fainter now. Due to optical illusion, stars apper brighter and sometimes fainter in the sky. The bright one above the head is Jupiter and if you can make out brownish one as Mars, then next to it is Saturn.