A rare get-together between three planets will happen this week according to scientists. Venus and Jupiter, two of the brightest and easily noticeable planets in the sky, will be joined by one of the most elusive, Mars, in what is known as a triple planetary conjunction.
This rare phenomenon is expected to be seen throughout the month of October, but it is estimated to be at its clearest between the 24th and the 29th. The three planets have been moving closer to one another since the beginning of the month, forming and ever shrinking triangle in the sky. Should the weather be favorable this rare occurrence will be possible to see by the naked eye, at its brightest an hour before the actual sunrise.
What adds to the beauty of the phenomenon is its rarity: the next time scientists expect to see this alignment is only in 2021. In case of clear skies and a bit of extra effort, the true aficionado can try locating a fourth planet, Mercury, beneath the other three, while the sun rises.
But experts say that the best time to start scanning the skies for this rare conjunction is actually before the sun starts to rise, as it’s dark enough for them to be spotted easier but they are still high on the horizon at the time.
Naturally, a pair of binoculars will help spot the planets faster and a telescope will always offer an extra edge but, considering the fact that Jupiter and Venus are the easiest planets to identify in the sky, it should be easy enough to locate them on the eastern horizon an hour before sunrise. Mars is particularly difficult to locate, usually, as it is the least bright of them all, but using the shining Jupiter-Venus duo, astronomy enthusiasts will be able to find it easily enough this time.
It might be worth watching the unique conjecture when the planets are closest to one another because of one thing: when the distance between the three planets is five degrees, at its smallest, the entire alignment can be seen inside a singular binocular field of vision.
So, if you don’t want to lose the opportunity of seeing such a rare get-together between three planets that usually don’t get this close, make sure you wake up early at least once this week, grab a pair of binoculars for extra accuracy and just enjoy the show.
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