Planets to align for the first time in 10 years

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The five brightest planets will align in Australia’s morning skies tomorrow for the first time in more than 10 years.

Planets to align for the first time in 10 years

Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn will rise together in a line that stretches from high in the north to low in the eastern horizon.

According to Professor Rachel Webster of Melbourne University’s astrophysics department, Australians will need to be willing to wake up early to see the planets, with the best views between 5.30am and 5.40am AEDT (Australian Eastern Daylight Time).

“The great thing is you don’t need a telescope to see the planets. They will be visible with the naked eye,” she said.

She said the key to spotting the alignment is to find a clear, west-facing spot above ground level.

Four of the planets have been visible in Australian morning skies since the New Year. Mercury will be the final planet to join the planet party as it transitions from appearing in the evening to being visible in the morning.

For keen astronomers out there, the moon will act as a helpful indicator for tracking the line up. It will travel by each planet from the end of January, beginning on January 28 when it will sit right next to Jupiter.

Mercury is the faintest of the planets so will be the hardest to see, but as it rises further and further from the horizon, it will become clearer by early February when it will sit just beneath Venus.

“The planets are will be so bright you will even be able to see them in cities, in spite of light pollution,” Professor Webster said.

The planets all sit on a flat plane but have different yearly cycles, so for all five bright planets to line up is a rare occurrence, one that hasn’t happened since 2005.

The phenomenon will be visible from Wednesday January 20 through until the end of February.

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