Strutting through a celestial catwalk, five planets will take the stage over Orlando’s sky Friday morning and for the next several weeks into July. More astonishing, the five planets will be lining up in the correct order away from the sun for Earthly viewing pleasure, according to skyandtelescope.org writer Bob King.
Stargazers will be able to see Mercury at the eastern horizon followed by Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and ending at Saturn. One can include Earth in the lineup for a feeling of completion to the lineup by using the waning moon as a proxy for Earth, King said.
“Standing under the spread will feel like looking out the window of the spaceship Earth at our place in the cosmic order,” King said.
The solar system getting its ducks in a row is a rare event with the last occurrence taking place in 2004. However, there were some deviations in the perfect lineup. In 1995 and 1997 Mercury’s elongation was no more than 10, restricting the view to sharp-eyed observers in tropical latitudes.
Truly, the last time astronomy fans were witnesses to the celestial splendor with such synchronicity would’ve been in 1957, King reported. The next opportunity won’t be until 2041.
Woah! That’s a long time. By then, we’ll be on Super Bowl LXXV.
So to catch the orbital lineup before such a time, be sure to wake up early at least one morning for a look either Friday or Sunday – the two best mornings for viewing – when Venus and the filament-thin Moon meet in conjunction, King said. .
Ocular tools aren’t necessary but a pair of binoculars could help bring your viewing experience a long way. All that’s crucial for the sighting is a clear or partly cloudy sky and an unobstructed east-northeastern horizon.
Saturday evening has a 30% chance of thunderstorms over Orlando, according to the National Weather Service, and a 70% chance Sunday which could hinder the viewing experience.
If it’s clear, stargazers can start by looking for Mercury hanging low in the solar glow. The other four will be much easier to spot, King said.
Read more at Skyandtelescope.org.