Pre-dawn spectacle: 5 planets in rare alignment
MANILA, Philippines – In the coming days, try to wake up early to witness a rare celestial sight – the 5 visible planets greeting you in the pre-dawn sky.
Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn will be visible in the sky at dawn until around late February, in what is called a planetary conjunction, a phenomenon where planets "align" in the night sky.
Mars, Venus, Jupiter. and Saturn have been already visible in a conjunction since the New Year, and as of January 20, they are joined by Mercury in the early morning sky.
It will be a "very rare and spectacular display of planetary conjunctions since 2005," the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said in its monthly astronomical bulletin.
If you are in the Philippines (or in the northern hemisphere in general), the planets will form an arc across the sky from the southeast to the southwest, with Mercury from the southeastern horizon, followed by Venus, going up to Saturn, then Mars, and then Jupiter at the southwestern end.
Astronomy website Sky and Telescope suggests that people in the northern hemisphere go outside approximately 45 minutes before sunrise to view the spectacle. The best time to view it would be late January to early February.
As a guide, EarthSky.org suggests following the moon from January 27 to February 6 to check out the positions of the planets.
"The planets will be good astronomical targets for astrophotography and telescoping sessions during the month," PAGASA said. – Rappler.com