5 planets aligned in the sky in a rare formation

The five major planets in our solar system line up in a rare formation that skywatchers can see with their own eyes.

Astronomers say the formation is expected to remain in the sky through the rest of June. The planets in question are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. They are the brightest planets in the solar system.

Seeing two or three major planets close together can be a common sight. But the American Astronomical Society He said In a statement, seeing the five together is rare. The last time such planets occurred was in December 2004.

The association said the best time to view the five planets is shortly before sunrise. It will “stretch across the sky from low in the east to higher in the south,” the statement said.

Some astronomers call the event a “planet parade.”

Map published by the Astronomical Society Sky and telescope The magazine shows the planets shown from left to right in this order – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Mercury will appear at the lowest point on horizon.

This graphic image shows the positions of the five major planets in our solar system. The planets line up in a rare formation that’s expected to be visible in the sky through the rest of June. (Image credit: Stellarium, with graphic additions by Bob King)

People in the northern hemisphere should look toward the east-southeast horizon, while those in the southern hemisphere should look toward the east-northeast horizon.

Planets must be Visible Without special equipment such as a telescope. But binoculars It will be useful. Cloudy weather will also affect visibility, so astronomers suggest some planning for the best experience.

“If it is cloudy on the observation dates, you still have all the morning in between to see the five sights nakedeye planets adorn Southeast horizon,” the association said. “Just make sure you set the alarm and get up on time.”

Mercury is the hardest to see because it is closer to radiate from the sun. But the other planets should be easy to see for several more days, even without binoculars.

On June 19, the US space agency NASA chirp About the beginning of the unusual planet lineup. “Look for the beginning of the night to see Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn spread out and seem to line up in the sky.” NASA noted that on June 23, sky watchers received a special treatment, when a “crescent” joined the lineup.

The “crescent” describes the shape of the moon as it appears early in its first quarter or late in its last quarter. During this period, only a small edge of the moon can be seen and illuminated by the sun.

As June ends, the planet’s parade will come to an end. Astronomers expect that the next opportunity to see the composition of the five planets will be in March 2041.

NASA Says June is also a good time for more serious sky watchers to observe one of the most famous “globular star clusters.” These “groups”, or groups, are spherical Clusters of stars are closely clustered together in their centers. It can include tens of thousands to millions of stars. They revolve around the centers of many galaxies.

The most commonly observed species currently is called the M13, also known as the Hercules Cluster. But the space agency notes that a binoculars or telescope will be necessary to see it. NASA advises “look for M13 in the constellation Hercules, high in the east in the first two hours after dark in June.”

This image, captured by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, shows M13, or the constellation Hercules, located 25,000 light-years from Earth.  Image credits: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team)

This image, captured by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, shows M13, or the constellation Hercules, located 25,000 light-years from Earth. Image credits: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team)

A constellation is a group of stars that form a shape in the sky that has a name and has a story behind it.

The age of the stars in M13 is believed to be about 12 billion years. NASA notes that this is about as old as the universe itself.

I’m Brian Lynn.

Brian Lane wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from the American Astronomical SocietyAnd the Sky & Telescope and NASA.

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The words in this story

horizonn. Where the sky seems to touch the land or the sea

Visible characteristic Observable

binoculars – n. A pair of tubes with glass lenses at the ends for you to look through to see things further away

With the naked eye n. If something can be seen with the naked eye, it can be seen without the help of special equipment

adorn Fifth. To add something decorative to someone or something

radiate Fifth. To produce continuous light and sometimes heat

spherical characteristic Something with a round shape, like a ball

galaxy n. One of the independent groups of stars in the universe

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