All planets in the solar system visible in night sky at same time on Wednesday

Every planet in the solar system will be visible in the night sky simultaneously on Wednesday, which is regarded by experts as a rare astronomical event.

Venus, Mercury, Saturn, Jupiter and Mars can all currently be seen in that order in the northern hemisphere with the naked eye, starting from the south-western horizon and moving east.

Uranus, located between Mars and Jupiter, and Neptune, which is between Saturn and Jupiter, can be seen with binoculars or a telescope until the end of the year.

All eight planets will appear only 1.5 degrees apart on Wednesday night and reach conjunction – their closest point – on Thursday at 2100 GMT.

The planets can be spotted low in the west, with the clearest view expected to be about 30 minutes after sunset, with Venus disappearing about 40 minutes later.

Gianluca Masi, an astronomer with the Virtual Telescope Project in Italy, told Newsweek: “These nights, we can see all the planets of our solar system at a glance, soon after sunset. It happens from time to time, but it is always a spectacular sight.”

Mercury is the most difficult planet to see without magnification, as it is sitting in a bright part of the sky. However, it can be spotted close to the much brighter Venus.

The rest of the planets line up eastwards, with Jupiter appearing brighter than all of the stars and high in the southern sky.

Jupiter is not expected to be visible at around midnight. However, Mars is set to be visible all night after it rises in the east just before sunset, and will appear red and brighter than most stars.

Saturn, the second biggest planet, will be a golden colour when it appears in the south-west after darkness falls.

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It will set at about 2000 GMT while the moon is expected to appear as a crescent between Jupiter and Saturn.

The last time all of the planets were visible in the sky simultaneously was in June. All five planets visible to the naked eye were lined up in the sky in the same sequential order that they physically orbit the sun – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn – an alignment which had not occurred for 18 years.

Another significant event for astronomers is the Quadrantids meteor shower, which is expected to peak around 3 January, and is known for producing blue meteors travelling at 40km (25 miles) a second and occasional bright fireballs.

Author: systems