Everybody loves a parade. And if you’re in awe of the planets, stars, and other things that shine in the sky, you’ll want to see what some observers call a “planet parade” coming up over the next few days.
The planetary parade of sorts will occur when Jupiter, Venus, Mars and Saturn appear to be lined up in a row above the horizon during the pre-dawn hours, beginning Saturday morning, April 23. The lineup will also be visible for the next few mornings, and April’s crescent moon will soon join the parade, according to experts at LiveScience and AccuWeather.
“Planetary alignments occur when the planets’ orbits bring them to the same region of the sky, when viewed from Earth,” notes WordsSideKick.com. “Such planetary alignments aren’t rare, but they don’t happen regularly, either: The last time five planets aligned in the night sky was in 2020, preceded by alignments in 2016 and 2005.”
In New Jersey, New York and other areas of the United States, the best time to see the next alignment of the planets will be about an hour before sunrise, according to NBC News. Just be sure to look up at the southeastern sky.
The sun is scheduled to rise in the New York City region at 6:05 a.m. Saturday, 6:04 a.m. Sunday, 6:02 a.m. Monday, 6:01 a.m. Tuesday and at 5:59 am on Wednesday.
“The crescent moon will appear near all four planets about an hour before sunrise on Monday, April 25 and Tuesday, April 26,” according to AccuWeather.
To see the parade of planets, experts say, you won’t need a telescope or binoculars, just your eyes and clear skies. And you have to get up early.
In case you’re wondering how to identify the planets in the sky, WordsSideKick.com says, “Mars will be an orange dot below and to the left of Saturn, while Venus will be a brighter light below and to the left of Mars. Jupiter will be lower and more to the left in the sky.”
Other spring sky events
The annual Lyrid meteor shower, the first major meteor shower of the year, peaked late Thursday into early Friday morning, but astronomy experts say Friday night should be another good chance to see if the sky is clear. And some shooting stars will still be visible at night and in the early morning hours until April 29.
The next big sky event will happen next month, with a total lunar eclipse predicted from Sunday night, May 15, to early Sunday, May 16. The eclipse, the first of two in 2022, is expected to be visible from the United States, along with the rest of North America, South America, Africa, Europe and parts of Asia.
The May lunar eclipse will be followed by two consecutive “supermoons,” one on June 14 and one on July 13. They are full moons that appear slightly larger and brighter than an average full moon because their orbit is closer to Earth.
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Len Melisurgo can be contacted at LMelisurgo@njadvancemedia.com.