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Home / Science / Mercury, Jupiter, and Saturn gather in the night sky in a rare three-planet companion event. This is how to watch Monday.

Mercury, Jupiter, and Saturn gather in the night sky in a rare three-planet companion event. This is how to watch Monday.



Jupiter Saturn conjunctions
Saturn (top) and Jupiter (bottom) in the sky above a church in New York City in December 2020. Gary Heshorn

Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn are currently gathering in the night sky.

Monday is the last three nights, and the three planets will line up and be visible at dusk. They seem to be the closest moments to Sunday in more than two decades, forming an equilateral triangle.

Amy Oliver, a spokesperson for the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told the Boston Globe: “This shape is just a passing moment of time.” “We won’t see it like we do now. Because it may not happen again in exactly the same way-at least not in your life.”

Astronomical events in which celestial bodies are arranged in this way are called conjunctions. Such a triple alignment is called a planetary trio.

If you put your palm on the sky, and all three planets are gathered in a circle that fits the space between your ring finger and index finger, then this is a trio.

This is how to look at the planetary trio before it disappears.

Go out at dusk and bring binoculars

HG
The surface of Mercury, photographed by the Mariner 10 spacecraft in 1974. Frontiers in Space/Houghton Archives/Getty

On Monday, between half an hour and 45 minutes after sunset, it departs at dusk. Looking up at the southwest sky. The clearer the sky, the father of city lighting is on you, the easier it is to see the conjunction.

Jupiter looks the brightest with the naked eye (10 times brighter than Saturn), followed by Mercury, and then Saturn.

Because Saturn is so dim, it may not be distinguished from the afterglow of the sun with the naked eye. Therefore, the best way to find the planetary triangle is to focus your eyes on Jupiter, which will be located near the top, and then use binoculars to aim at it. According to EarthSky, Mercury and Saturn should appear in the same binocular vision as Jupiter.

After Monday, Jupiter and Saturn will descend below the horizon and will no longer be visible, while Mercury will continue to rise as night falls, gradually moving away from the other two planets.

Although the three worlds seemed almost to meet during the planetary trio, Jupiter and Saturn were actually separated by almost five times the distance between the earth and the sun. Mercury and Saturn are nearly two times apart.

The last time these three planets were so closely aligned was in 2000

Saturn
A picture of Saturn and its two moons taken by Voyager 1 in 1980. SSPL/Getty

Last month, astronomers turned their telescopes into the sky to welcome another companion event when Jupiter and Saturn were arranged hundreds of years older than them.

In the past 2,000 years, the distance between Jupiter and Saturn in the sky was only twice: once in 1623, but the sun’s glare made us invisible. The other was in 1226.

In contrast, planetary trios are more common. The last one was in October 2015. According to EarthSky, another trio involving Mercury, Venus and Jupiter will be held on February 13.

The last time Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn formed a triangle was May 2000.

Read the original article on Business Insider




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