Stargazers, you’re in for a treat.
From Jan. 20 to Feb. 20, people around the world who wake up just before dawn will be able to see five planets. FIVE!
Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter will all be visible in the pre-dawn sky — something that hasn’t happened for over a decade.
“The last time this happened was about 11 years ago,” J. Kelly Beatty, a senior editor for Sky and Telescope magazine, told BuzzFeed News. “Back then it was even rarer as all the planets lined up in order. This time Saturn is out of position. I guess it didn’t get the memo.”
All the planets will be easiest to spot in the last week of January and the first week of February, Beatty said, because this is when Mercury will be at its most visible.
(As the planet closest to the sun, it can often get lost in the glare of sunrise and sunset).
All you need to do is get up about 45 minutes before sunrise, which sounds bad, but really only means waking up around 6:30 a.m.
“I don’t know about you but I’m already on the way to work by then,” Beatty said. “Lots of people are already commuting. If this were happening in the summer you’d need to be getting up around 4 in the morning.”
Be advised, though, that that the arc between the five planets will be about 110 degrees. “That’s pretty challenging from a peripheral vision perspective,” Beatty said. “You’ll have to do a sweep.”
Protip: find a space with a clear view of the horizon, like a park or lake, or try to seek out a hill.
The best part? You won’t even need a telescope. Barring poor weather, the planets will all be visible to the naked eye.
“This is what I call eyeball astronomy,” Beatty said. “It’s just being in the moment. You don’t need to wait for your eyes to adjust to the darkness, or have a telescope or binoculars. Just go out and appreciate the clockwork of our solar system playing out right in front of you.”
If you need further help identifying them, here are the planets as the Sailor Scouts. (Note: this is not actually helpful).
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