As stargazers spend the late hours of the night watching the Lyrid meteor shower this week, those who are up in the early mornings will have the chance to capture another phenomenon: Four planets in our solar system will appear to line up in the sky.
At the beginning of the month, Mars, Venus and Saturn were all visible in the early morning. Now, the trio are joined by Jupiter, and the four planets can be seen by the naked eye in a straight line for the rest of April, as long as city lights don’t intrude.
The reason for the rare occurrence: All of the planet’s orbits around the sun lining up. Venus’ orbit around the sun is 225 Earth days, while Saturn’s is 29 years.
The conjunction can be seen across the world in the predawn hours of the morning by looking east or toward the sunrise.
“By mid-month, Jupiter is starting to rise in the pre-dawn hour, making for a quartet of planets, strung out 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 be stretched out in a diagonal line spanning just over 30 degrees” by Tuesday. From lower left to upper right stargazers can find: Jupiter, Venus, Mars and Saturn.
People in the Southern Hemisphere will see the planets in a line going up the horizon. From the horizon to the north you can find: Jupiter, Venus, Mars and Saturn.
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As the month nears its end, the moon will join in the conjunction, appearing below each of the planets from April 25-27, according to Space.com. On April 30, Venus and Jupiter will appear to be headed toward a collision course. They will be about 0.45 degrees away from each other in the sky before they begin to drift apart.
The alignment comes after Jupiter and Saturn came together in December 2020 in the “Great Conjunction,” when they appeared the closest they have been since the Middle Ages.
This won’t be the only time you can 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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