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Rare alignment of planets to be visible from the UK

© Juri Noga

On Thursday, you’ll be able to look up into the night sky and see every planet in our solar system. Five planets can be seen without a telescope from the UK, but binoculars work best for viewing Uranus and Neptune. Due to their low astronomical positions, Mercury and Venus may be challenging to see. After sunset will be the best time to see the celestial show.

People who live farther south, like in southern Europe or nearer the equator, will have a better chance of seeing the planets line up in the sky in a straight line. Mercury will also be easier to see in these areas.

It’s important to note that because planets are closer to Earth than stars are, they don’t twinkle like stars do. The brightest planets will be Jupiter and Saturn, while Mars will have a pronounced salmon-red hue.

The planets’ orbits around the sun cause the alignment of our solar system’s planets, which is a rare occurrence. The planets orbit the sun at varying velocities and distances and are thus constantly in motion. Their orbits occasionally line up so that we can view them all at once in the night sky.

Eight planets make up the solar system, including the four gas giants (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) and the four terrestrial planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars). Planets are fascinating objects to observe and study because they each have their own distinctive features and characteristics.

In order to experience the exceptional sight of all the planets in our solar system on Thursday, be sure to look up at the night sky if you have the opportunity. It’s an opportunity that doesn’t come along very frequently and shouldn’t be passed up.