A Planetary Alignment Will Be Visible Throughout August

Above the round domes of La Silla Observatory, three astronomical objects in the Solar System — Jupiter (top), Venus (lower left), and Mercury (lower right). ESO/Y. Beletsky

If you missed the planetary alignment earlier this year, fear not! We are getting an encore this summer.

Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn – the five planets most visible in the night sky with the naked eye – will be aligned throughout August. And unlike the alignment in January, this time the planets will be visible after sunset, rather than before dawn.

According to Dr Alan Duffy, a research fellow at Swinburne University in Melbourne, the best date to see the alignment is August 21, which will avoid the glare from the full Moon.

The alignment is most visible just after sunset, with Mercury and Venus being the closest to our setting star as they closely trace it. Venus will only be 10 degrees away from the Sun, which is roughly the space between your arms if you stretch them towards the horizon.

Based on luminosity, Venus together with Jupiter should be quite easy to spot as they are some of the brightest objects in the Sky. And Mars, with its red hue, should be quite recognizable too. Mars and Saturn, though, will be much higher in the sky.

The alignment is visible globally, but if you can’t find a good night, don’t despair – the next alignment will be visible in October 2018.

[H/T: Australian Geographic]

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