Don't miss this month's rare planetary alignment
Don't miss this month's rare planetary alignment (Thinkstock)
Don't miss this month's rare planetary alignment
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Step outside this week into the chilly predawn to see the planet Mercury peak over the horizon. Then trace an arc across the sky to pick out Venus, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter. All five will be visible together for the first time since 2005.
 
The latter four planets have been shining in the early morning since the beginning of the year. So writes Tanya Hill for The Conversation. "It is the appearance of Mercury that makes the family complete," she adds. You can take in the spectacle, depending on your location.
 
Mercury usually hangs close to the horizon. It is the most difficult to see. But it will gradually cross higher in the sky. By early February, it will be easier to spot.
 
Starting January 28, the waning moon will travel along the line of planets. It will start out at Jupiter and rest near Mercury by February 7. Venus and Saturn will dance in particularly close conjunction on February 9.  This is according to Bruce McClure and Deborah Byrd for EarthSky.org.
 
Since each planet orbits at different distances from the Sun and takes different periods of time to complete a year, this kind of alignment in the Earth's sky is rare. The fact that they do stack up in a line is visual proof that the planets do orbit on roughly the same plane, Hill writes.
 
"There are only a few amazing things in the night sky that can be seen without any equipment," Alan Duffy, a research fellow at Swinburne University in Melbourne, tells Anne Johnson of Australian Geographic. The planetary alignment is one of them. It is worth an early rise. Duffy does caution that some people may have to travel farther than their front stoop to get a clear view of the horizon. Trees, buildings and city lights can all block the rare views.
 
So make sure you prepare for the show. And figure out when Mercury will rise near you. To find out, use the United States Naval Observatory's webpage. Hope for clear skies and bundle up. This may be the best view of the five planets aligned for quite a while. According to EarthSky.org, the group will gather again in August. But only those in the Southern Hemisphere will really get to see the next show.

Source URL: https://www.tweentribune.com/article/tween56/dont-miss-months-rare-planetary-alignment/

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why is no telescope needed to see these planets?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (42)
  • asiap1-bla
    1/28/2016 - 10:19 a.m.

    I Think A Telescope Isn't Needed To See These Planets Because These Planets Are Larger Enough For Us To See With Our Own Eyes && They Maybe Close To Us That's Why I Think A Telescope Isn't Needed For Those Planets .

  • ritav-hol
    1/28/2016 - 11:24 a.m.

    I find it cool you get to see all five planets at the same time

  • nicolettem-2-bar
    1/28/2016 - 03:01 p.m.

    No telescope is needed to see these five planets, starting approximately January 28th, because this is the first time since 2005 that all these planets are in alignment with one another, proving that all planets orbit around the same time or will align with each other at the same time. I am very excited for this 'event' because you will be able to see the planets with the naked eye and no expensive equipment is needed to see the planets. Another reason I am excited for this is because, we don't know a lot about space because it is so huge. So, i think this could be a very good learning experience, if the skies are clear those nights.

  • ziont-orv-orv
    1/28/2016 - 04:34 p.m.

    Yeah, I might go look at this. I didn't see the lunar eclipse because the clouds were in the way, hopefully I can see this one.

  • melissaj-Ste
    1/28/2016 - 06:55 p.m.

    This is an amazing opportunity. Unfortunately because it occurs in the morning, there is no way I will be able to make it to a location clear of trees, buildings, and lights that early. It must be pretty clear in the sky to be able to see the rest of the planets. I'm sure no one needs a telescope to actually see the planets, but to see the details a telescope would help.

  • maxwellc-3-bar
    1/28/2016 - 08:18 p.m.

    No telescope is needed to see these planets because as the writer said, "Since each planet orbits at different distances from the Sun and takes different periods of time to complete a year, this kind of alignment in the Earth's sky is rare. The fact that they do stack up in a line is visual proof that the planets do orbit on roughly the same plane." This means that every planet is visible without a telescope at some point every year, but the planets almost never can be seen at the same time to the naked eye. So, the planets are much closer to the earth, and aligned directly in a line, which is why it is called a planetary alignment. I think this does not seem that rare because the last alignment was only 11 years ago.

  • brookem-1-bar
    1/28/2016 - 10:35 p.m.

    No telescope is needed because you can see them with the naked eye. The planets hang "close to the horizon." We can see the planets because they "do orbit on roughly the same plane."

    I found this article interesting because I didn't think it was possible for all the planets to align.

  • markm-3-bar
    1/28/2016 - 11:07 p.m.

    No telescope is needed to see the planets because they are all close enough to the horizon and close to earth that you are able to see the planets with the naked eye. I never wake up early for this stuff but since this occasion is very rare I might go take a quick look. This is very interesting that our eyes can see these types of things that are so far away without using any equipment. I have always been interested in distant planets and what happens on them.

  • summerc-1-bar
    1/29/2016 - 12:07 a.m.

    A telescope isn't needed to see these planets because, as Alan Duffy says in paragraph 6, "There are only a few amazing things in the night sky that can be seen without any equipment." In the same paragraph, it states, "The planetary alignment is one of them." The sentence is referring to an amazing sight in the night sky that can be seen with the naked eye.
    It must be amazing to see the planets of our own solar system without having to look through a telescope.

  • pareeyag-
    1/29/2016 - 10:16 a.m.

    The planets are really close to us.

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