A delightful and rare planetary trio comprised of Venus, Jupiter, and Mars appearing in a triangular pattern will continue to adorn eastern pre-dawn skies until around October 29, astronomers have confirmed. The planets are set to converge as part of a recurring orbiting cycle in a captivating spectacle for early-rising star-gazers. This remarkable event is unlikely to reoccur again until 2021.
Th planets Venus and Jupiter are among the brightest celestial objects adorning the deep night sky, surpassed in brightness only by the sun and moon. These characteristics will enable star gazers to catch a comfortable glimpse of these magnificent heavenly bodies as they emerge into the morning sky. The Red Planet, notably fainter by contrast, is likely to feature more prominently amid the dark sky of night just prior to dawn. According to Earthsky, the planets of the solar system orbit the sun in a “single flat plane.”
“In our sky, we look edgewise into the plane of the solar system to see the planets, the sun and moon travel a single narrow pathway across our sky. The sun’s pathway is called the ecliptic. If you include the stars and constellations that lie along the ecliptic, you’re then talking about the Zodiac. The planets orbit the sun at different speeds, with each planet outward from the sun moving around the sun more slowly. Thus Venus takes only a fraction of one Earth-year – only 225 days – to orbit the sun once. Mars takes about two Earth-years. And Jupiter takes about 12 Earth-years.”
Astronomers have in fact also asserted that “all five visible planets”– including Mercury and Saturn — can be spotted somewhere in the clear night sky all October, stating that Mars and Jupiter have experienced their closest conjunction event until 2018.
According to experts, visible planets are defined as solar-system worlds discernible to the naked eye without the use of a viewing instrument, namely a telescope. These planets are prominent in the night sky as a consequence of sunlight reflected from their respective disks, enabling them to glow more vividly in contrast to many of the more distant pulsating stars.
Venus is the brightest planet in the solar system, oftentimes visible to star-gazers in daylight as well. Originally perceived as two different stars, the evening star and the morning star, it is similar to the earth in size, gravity and composition. However, unlike earth, its dense atmosphere makes it the fieriest planet in the solar system with temperatures exceeding 800 degrees Fahrenheit.
Jupiter is the largest world and fourth brightest object in the solar system. Scientists have often speculated if Jupiter could in fact be characterized as a star given its capacity for nuclear fusion within its planetary core provided only that it was much more extensive than it actually is. While Saturn is famously acknowledged for its ring, Jupiter also has its own ring system which is essentially a product of dust and therefore difficult to spot.
Mars, although not as incandescent on a clear night as the other two, has nonetheless for many years sparked enormous interest among scientists owing to a host of other reasons. In the night sky however, it appears 250 times fainter than Venus and 25 times fainter than Jupiter, rendering itself marginally less visible to the naked eye by comparison.
The previous sky-event when all five visible planets — namely Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn — dazzled in the same night sky together was between December of 2004 and January of 2005. The next similar event is likely to occur sometime in January, 2016, and is believed to possibly last a month.
[Image via Getty Images]