Washington: Four of the five planets visible to the unaided eye will be coming quite close to one another in the pre-dawn sky next week.
According to the editors of StarDate magazine, on the morning of May 10, Venus and Jupiter will stand side-by-side, quite low in the east, as dawn brightens.
They are the brightest objects in the night sky after the moon, and Venus will be the brighter of the two.
Mercury will be visible to the lower right of Venus, about the same distance as Venus is to Jupiter. It isn’t nearly as bright, but its proximity to Venus will help identify it.
Finally, Mars is about twice as far to the lower left of Jupiter. It’s so low and faint that it will be difficult to see, but binoculars may help.
The planets remain huddled together for several days, changing positions day by day.
The best view is from the southern states because the path the planets follow across the sky (the ecliptic) stands at a little higher angle relative to the horizon.
High-resolution images and high-definition animation that shows the changing positions of these planets over several days are available online at StarDate’s Media Center.
First Published: Friday, May 06, 2011, 15:26