A rare alignment of four planets— Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn is expected to happen this month. These planets, though quite far away from each other, will be uniquely positioned to appear as if they’re in a straight line. Further, two more planets – Mercury and Uranus are expected to join the alignment later this year. Here’s all you need to know about this rare celestial occurrence.
Visible to the naked eye
The alignment will be one of the few rare phenomena that will actually be visible to watchers without the need for a telescope or other viewing instrument, according to NASA. This means that interested watchers will be simply able to watch the alignment by simply looking at the sky, provided it’s not very cloudy at their location.
“At the beginning of April, Venus, Mars, and Saturn form a trio in the southeast before sunrise, with Saturn appearing to move steadily toward Mars each day. By mid-month, Jupiter is starting to rise in the pre-dawn hour, making for a quartet of planets, strung out in a line across the morning sky,” NASA’s website said.
According to the American space agency, Jupiter and Venus, the brightest planets in the night sky, are headed for an ultra-close conjunction where the two will seem to overlap in the sky, similar to the conjunction of Mars and Saturn that happened earlier in the month. While these sort of planetary alignments and their visibility in the sky are rare, they do happen once every few years.
When can you watch the celestial alignment?
According to EarthSky, the quartet is best viewed just before sunrise in the morning. For most locations in India, that would be between 5 AM and 6 AM. This phenomenon will be visible till the end of April at least. This means you will have multiple opportunities to check out the celestial alignment.
Mercury, Uranus to also join the alignment
According to PetaPixel, Mercury is going to join the quartet somewhere around June 24 to take the count of planets visible in the night sky to five: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. The last time such an event happened was in January 2016.
A sixth planet from our solar system, Uranus, would be part of this alignment but it would be near impossible to see it with the naked eye. Also, when these five planets are visible in the night sky, they will be accompanied by a crescent moon that will be visible at the same time.