Watch the planets dance in a triple conjunction

In just a few days, Jupiter, Mercury, and Venus will come together in the night sky in what is known as the "Dance of the Planets."

A celestial conjunction viewed on December 3, 2009: the moon, Venus and Jupiter, captured at the ESO's VLT observatory at Paranal, Chile. European Southern Observatory

Triple planetary conjunctions are relatively rare in the night sky, but astronomers are about to be in for a real treat.

The three brightest planets in our solar system as seen from Earth -- Jupiter, Mercury, and Venus -- will be coming together in the sky, "dancing" around each other over the course of several nights, starting Friday, May 24.

If we're lucky, we see a triple conjunction once every two years or so. The most recent was in May 2011; the next won't be until October 2015.

Because the planets in this conjunction are so bright, the dance will be visible to the naked eye, even in densely populated areas. But if you have access to a telescope or binoculars, so much the better.

The planets will be at their closest, with Jupiter and Venus just 1 degree apart, on May 28 and 29. All three planets will form a straight line on May 31 as they gradually move apart from each other.

For U.S. observers, the best time to look is toward the western sky at twilight, with the three planets appearing close to the horizon. Starting Thursday, May 23, the three planets will be close enough together to be viewed through a pair of binoculars, forming a triangle on May 24 before drawing close and orbiting apart.

And, if we're really lucky, someone will take the opportunity to end the reign of the evil vulture-like monsters that have gripped us in an iron fist.

(Source: Crave Australia)

 

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