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Five planets will line up in the night sky. Here’s how to watch the show

(CNN) Night sky buffs can usually spot only a few planets, but in late March, a stunning picture forms when five planets line up under the moon in a display sometimes referred to as a planetary parade or alignment.

Viewers will be able to get the best look at the alignment – which will include Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Uranus – at Tuesday evening, just after sunset. Much of the show will become visible on Friday and will remain visible for the next two weeks, according to Cameron Holmes, a computational astrophysicist at Caltech.

Alignments like this appear every few years or so, Hummels said, and many will be visible to the naked eye, even in urban areas with heavy light pollution. It can be observed in the northern and southern hemispheres.

The arrangement will be visible just below the crescent moon. To determine the width, Hummels recommended heading to a place with a good view of the western horizon just after sunset, When the colorful sunset streaks still linger And the sky became dark blue, but not yet black. (Hint: those who live far north We should look a little to the southwest, while those in the southern hemisphere We should look northwest, said Holmes.)

The easiest planet to see is Venus, which is often called the “evening star” because it’s the brightest object in the night sky next to the moon. Uranus will appear close to Venus, though the distant planet can be difficult to spot without binoculars or a telescope unless you’re watching from a prime location without light pollution.

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Below Venus and Uranus will be Jupiter and Mercury, hovering over the horizon. It can also be difficult to catch Mercury without special equipment, as the sun’s glare can obscure the planet. But to keen observers, the two planets will be visible for about 20 to 30 minutes after sunset, Holmes said.

To head the parade of planets, Mars will sit in a straight line from Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, Uranus, and the Moon. Hummels added that it is easy to spot because of its distinctive orange color.

Holmes said the planets would all appear “like pearls on a necklace” in the night sky.

Venus and Jupiter appear unusually close to each other in the artist’s rendering.

The full alignment will cover about 70 degrees of the sky. One way to measure degrees in the sky, Hummels said, is to use your thumb or fist held away from your body. A fist at arm’s length will cover about 10 degrees, while the thumb will cover about 1 degree.

What does it mean?

A planetary alignment like this might occur every few years, but it’s possible to capture the planets all together in a smaller part of the sky — such occurrences are rare.

final alignment JuneFor example, it was the first of its kind since 2004. The event included the five planets that can be seen with the naked eye – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

Hummels said no Put a lot of emphasis on planetary alignment.

“It’s a bit like when your car’s odometer shows a bunch of numbers – like 44444,” he said. “It is wonderful and extraordinary. It doesn’t really mean anything.”

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He added that wonderful celestial phenomena often adorn the night sky, such as the appearance of Jupiter and Venus in the interior. half a degree This month.

On October 14, skywatchers expect to see a “ring of fire” eclipse. And in April 2024, A.J The total eclipse of the sun It will block out the afternoon sun for many in the United States.