As stargazers spend the late hours of the night watching the Lyrid meteor showers this week, those who get up early in the morning will have a chance to catch another phenomenon: Four planets in our solar system will appear lined up in the sky.
At the beginning of the month, Mars, Venus, and Saturn are all visible in the early morning. Now, Jupiter has joined the trio, and the four planets can be seen with the naked eye in a straight line for the rest of April, as long as the city lights aren’t intrusive.
The reason for its rarity: All of the planet’s orbits around the sun are lined up. The orbit of Venus around the sun is 225 Earth days, while the orbit of Saturn is 29 years.
The conjunction can be seen all over the world in the pre-dawn hours of the morning by looking east or toward the rising sun.
“By the middle of the month, Jupiter begins to rise in the pre-dawn hour, forming a quadruple of planets, hanging in a line across the morning sky,” NASA said.
Those in the Northern Hemisphere will see the four planets across the horizon. EarthSky.org reported All of the planets will “stretch out in a diagonal line that extends just over 30 degrees” by Tuesday. From bottom left to top right stargazers can find: Jupiter, Venus, Mars and Saturn.
People in the Southern Hemisphere will see the planets in a line moving toward the horizon. From the horizon to the north you can find: Jupiter, Venus, Mars and Saturn.
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As the month draws to a close, the moon will join in conjunction, appearing below each of the planets from April 25 to 27, According to Space.com. On April 30, Venus and Jupiter appear to be headed on a collision course. They will be about 0.45 degrees from each other in the sky before they start moving away from each other.
The alignment comes after Jupiter and Saturn met together in December 2020 in the “Great Conjunction”, when they appeared to be the closest they’ve been since the Middle Ages.
It wouldn’t be the only time you could spot multiple planets at once this year. From late June to early July, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn will appear in the early morning sky.
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When, where, and how to see five planets lined up in the sky this week: NPR