Five Planets of the solar system, separated by billions of kilometres, appeared in the pre-dawn skies in rare planetary conjunction that will not repeat till 2040.
Mercury, Mars, Venus and Saturn recently appeared in the skies above Earth. The five planets came together as they moved in their own independent orbits around the Sun forming a straight-line alignment as seen from Earth. Moon too joined the five planets, making the event more special.
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Astronomer Dr Gianluca Masi of the Virtual Telescope Project managed to capture all five planets with the Moon in the skies above Rome, Italy, on June 26.
"While imaging astronomical objects so bright is generally easy, in the case of such a parade there are some critical things to be considered: first, the planets while aligned along the ecliptic, the projection in the sky of the Earth's orbit could cover many degrees in the sky (more than 100, in this case); furthermore, Mercury can be difficult to capture, being low above the horizon and showing in the brightest area of the sky at twilight," Dr Gianluca Masi said, as per Virtual Telescope website.
Dr Masi informed that in the northern hemisphere, the rare planetary conjunction was best visible between 45 and 90 minutes before sunrise. The line of planets stretched up from the sunrise toward the south.
The alignment has been happening since June 10, when Mercury started appearing above the surprise point, slowly separating itself from the Sun.
Seeing all five planets aligned accordingly to their increasing distance from the Sun is relatively rare. The last time this happened was in December 2004. According to Dr Masi, the next time such an alignment will happen, with planets showing in the same order, will be in 2040.