All the planets of the solar system that could be visible to the naked eye will be on display simultaneously in the predawn sky starting on January 20, for 2 to 4 weeks.
The celestial event will show all the five bright planets forming a diagonal line across the sky.
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You will need to get up early and the view will of course depend on weather conditions, but at least you have several days over the coming weeks to look for the planetary alignment. In Britain, the planets will be visible at around 6.45am on January 20, but astronomers have said the best view is likely to be in the early morning of February 5
The last time that all five visible planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn) appeared in the same sky together was over 10 years ago, from December 15, 2004, to January 15, 2005. The next presentation will again happen for a period of about one month, starting soon!
All five planets should be visible simultaneously before dawn beginning around January 20, 2016. And they’ll remain visible before dawn from about January 20 to February 20, 2016.
By bright or visible planet, we mean any planet in our own solar system that’s easily viewed without an optical aid and that has been watched by our ancestors since time immemorial.
In their outward order from the sun, the five bright planets are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. These planets are easily seen in our sky because their disks reflect sunlight, and these relatively nearby worlds tend to shine with a steadier light than the distant, twinkling stars.
Moreover, people around the globe can use the moon to help guide them to this showcase of planets from January 27 to February 6. The charts below are for mid-northern North American latitudes, although these planets can be seen in the morning sky from anywhere around the world.
The charts below show the moon’s position on the sky’s dome relative to these five bright planets from January 27 to February 6:
Of course, you can catch most of these planets long before dawn. Jupiter rises first, in the evening hours, followed by Mars after midnight and then Saturn, Venus and Mercury. Click here for recommended almanacs that will help you find when each planet rises into your sky for any given date.
May you be blessed with clear skies for the upcoming planetary spectacle, with all five bright planets taking stage in the same sky from January 20 to February 20, 2016!
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