How to catch a glimpse of a rare phenomenon in space where FIVE planets will be in perfect alignment
How to catch a glimpse of a rare phenomenon in space where FIVE planets are in perfect alignment and visible to the naked eye
- Five planets – Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, Uranus, Mars – will align on March 28th
- The Planetary Parade will be visible naked – here are our top picks
A rare cosmic event will light up the night sky later this month when five planets perfectly align simultaneously.
Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, Uranus and Mars will align in a rare parade of planets on March 28th.
The planets appear at the same time just after sunset on Tuesday, but can also be seen in the sky on the days before and after.
Experts said Jupiter and Mercury will appear as “two bright objects” close to the horizon.
On March 28th, a major planetary constellation of Jupiter, Mercury, Uranus, Mars and Venus will be visible to stargazers on Earth
The planets will appear at the same time on Tuesday just after sunset, but it is believed they will also be visible on the days before and after (pictured is a map identifying the most visible objects in the night sky on March 28).
TIPS TO SEE ALIGNMENT
- Get as far away from the city lights as possible to a place with dark skies
- Be set up and ready before the sun goes down
- Check in advance if the weather is nice and cloudless
- Find an open spot with a clear view of the horizon
- If possible, have binoculars or even a telescope handy for a clearer view
However, the duo will only be visible for less than an hour after sunset before disappearing from view.
Venus will be easiest to see with the naked eye as it is the third brightest object in the sky and will be seen higher in the sky alongside Uranus.
Mars will appear bright red and will be positioned quite high, visibly closer to the Moon.
The planetary alignment is said to take place in a 50 degree sector of the sky.
US astronomer Gary Swangin said Venus, Mars and Jupiter can be viewed with the naked eye.
However, binoculars may be needed to see Mercury and Uranus, he told the New Jersey Herald.
This won’t be the last chance for any space lovers to take a look, as another planetary alignment takes place on April 11th and later in the year on August 24th.
Mercury, Uranus, Jupiter, Neptune and Saturn form another five planet alignment on June 17th.
Former Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin shared his excitement about the upcoming space event in a post on Twitter, writing:
“Don’t forget to look up the sky at the end of the month to find the planetary alignment, which will have at least five planets — plus the moon — all visible in almost an arc shape when viewed from Earth.”
Space lovers can get a glimpse of the rare planetary alignment with the naked eye, but Gary Swangin said binoculars might be needed to see Mercury and Uranus (pictured, stock image).
DOES THE ALIGNMENT OF THE PLANETS AFFECT EARTH?
The planets in our solar system never line up in a perfectly straight line as shown in the movies.
If you look at a two-dimensional representation of the planets and their orbits on a piece of paper, you might think that all the planets will eventually orbit on the same line.
In reality, the planets don’t all orbit perfectly in the same plane. Instead, they swing around in three-dimensional space on different orbits. Because of this, they will never be perfectly aligned.
The planetary alignment depends on your point of view. If three planets are in the same region of sky as seen from Earth, they are not necessarily in the same region of sky as seen from Sun.
Alignment is therefore an artifact of a point of view and nothing fundamental about the planets themselves.
Even if the planets all aligned in a perfectly straight line, it would have negligible effects on Earth.
Fictional and pseudoscientific authors like to claim that a planetary alignment would mean all the planets’ gravitational fields add up into something massive that disrupts life on Earth.
In truth, the gravitational pulls of the planets on Earth are so weak that they have no significant effect on life on Earth.
There are only two objects in the solar system with sufficient gravity to significantly affect Earth: the moon and the sun.
The sun’s gravity is strong because the sun is so massive. The moon’s gravitational pull on Earth is strong because the moon is so close.
The Sun’s gravity causes the Earth’s annual orbit and hence, combined with the Earth’s tilt, causes the seasons.
The moon’s gravity is primarily responsible for the daily ocean tides. The close alignment of the Sun and Moon affects Earth because its gravitational fields are so strong.
This partial alignment occurs at each full moon and new moon and results in particularly strong tides called “spring tides.”
The word ‘spring’ here refers to the fact that the water seems to rush up the coast every two weeks with the particularly strong tides – not that they only occur in the spring season.
Source: dr Christopher S. Baird/West Texas A&M University
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