When the Planets Align

best telescopes

When the Planets Align

Do you know that with a modest telescope you are easily able to see only 5 of our nearest and brightest planetary neighbours?  So when we hear that the planets are about to align, we need to keep that in perspective, just a little!

Most people don’t realise that Uranus and Neptune are virtually only visible to professional astronomers, and Pluto is almost invisible from ground level on Earth.  That leaves Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn as bright enough in our night time skies to be accessible to amateur astronomers.  The good news is that you find and see each of these planets even with a modest telescope, but don’t expect to see too much detail of these intriguing and faraway worlds.

If you want to get serious about viewing our planetary neighbors, then you certainly can step up your powers of magnification, and this can open up a whole new world of access and interest, and there are many aspects of the planets to explore.  Such as the details of the red surface of Mars, the white clouds around Venus, the moons around Jupiter, the spectacular rings around Saturn, and even the clouds on Jupiter and its wondrous great red spot.

If this stimulates your appetite to do a little astronomical exploration, then there is even better news – there is no better time than right now – when the planets align!


Yes the planets will align

Yes literally, the brightest and more visible planets in the Solar System will all become visible in the evening sky, and more or less aligned for a spectacular visual display.  Although this may not seem remarkable, and don’t worry, it won’t be the last opportunity to observe this spectacular occurrence, but in terms of ease of viewing and collective interest, there is no better time to get yourself a telescope and spend some time under the stars, than when the planets align!


Earlier in the year, the same thing occurred for our viewing pleasure, unfortunately, when the planets align took place in the early hours of the morning, so you needed to be quite dedicated to the cause of astronomy to see the best alignment.  Well, those with patience will be rewarded by the fact that we can now view the alignment of the planets in the evening, and this should prove to be much more convenient if you want to share your interest of astronomy with your kids, or other members of the family.


Watch out for proximity of the planets

In fact the spectacle will be visible for several weeks, during which time, the planets will change their positions relative to each other, culminating in Jupiter and Venus actually ending up in very close proximity.  This proximity is in appearance only, rest assured they will not physically get anywhere near each other!

And don’t forget the Moon

How could I have forgotten to mention the Moon?  Well fortunately, the Moon does not play a big role at the same time as when the planets align.

I say this is a good thing, because we don’t really want to have a full Moon right in the middle of our planetary alignment, which doesn’t affect the planets, but it can ruin the spectacle of the event when trying to view through a telescope.  So fortunately there is no full Moon, but the crescent Moon does make an appearance, and this can add another dimension to the spectacular night time skies.

Early in the Lunar cycle, a very thin crescent Moon will pass near by Venus, and this always creates an interesting focus and added perspective to the overall spectacle of the event for enthusiastic astronomers.  A little later in the cycle, the Moon will transit closer to Jupiter, which is also a stunning vision, and you will be able to observe these events through any sized telescope or even binoculars will be adequate.


More opportunity when the Planets Align

After the Moon has finished making a spectacle of itself, we will be fortunate enough to see Venus, Jupiter and Mars all within a small patch of the sky, and as Mars is still relatively close to Earth, then there will be a spectacular contrast between the bright pink or red of Mars next to the brilliant white of Venus, and don’t forget the beautiful bright yellowish hue of Jupiter in the mix.


How best to see the Planets Align

This opportunity is too good to miss.  There is no doubt that you will be able to observe the spectacle through a small telescope or even with binoculars, because these objects will be very bright and very visible in the night sky.  However, if you really want to make the best of the opportunity when the planets align, then dust off your old telescope or upgrade to one of our recommended best telescopes and get motivated right now!  There is no better time to go looking for moons around Jupiter and Saturn than when you can also check out Mercury, Mars and Venus at the same time, and all of this is framed beside a wonderful crescent Moon when the planets align!


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