There is to be a rare celestial choreography in the night sky from May 24 until the end of the month involving three of Earth’s neighbours in the Solar System.
Mercury, Jupiter and Venus will all be aligned in the same field of vision, each seeming to spin and move around the others in a phenomenon known as the Dance of the Planets. It’s also a good chance to see three planets in the same field of view, and the last time they will be in such a tight grouping until 2026, according to Sky and Telescope magazine.
The ‘dance’ will take place in the west-northwest sky just after sunset and should be visible to the naked eye, although binoculars will enhance the viewing experience.
From May 24 to 30 all three planets will be within a 5-degree circle, which narrows to a 2.5 degree circle on May 26. But although the dance partners may appear close to each other, they will in reality be distanced by hundreds of millions of miles.
Venus and Jupiter, the two brightest planets as seen from Earth, are often easily visible in the night sky. Mercury, the third brightest planet, is slightly more difficult to gaze at, only being visible when the sun sets and is dimmed.
Follow the link to watch the Sky and Telescope animation of how the planets will ‘dance’…
Lunar Eclipse Wednesday
The Moon enters penumbra at 7:15 a.m. EST but will not be visible to us. A full lunar eclipse can be seen out in Hawaii; generally the further west one is the more one will see. We’ll have five eclipses next year, two solar, three lunar but… nothing good for us. Next time we can see a total lunar eclipse in the continental US? August. 21, 2017, from Oregon to South Carolina.