UAE: 5 planets to line up in rare celestial spectacle tomorrow

Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn will be visible with the naked eye just before sunrise on June 24

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File photo used for illustrative purpose
File photo used for illustrative purpose

Nandini Sircar

Published: Tue 21 Jun 2022, 5:05 PM

Last updated: Thu 23 Jun 2022, 1:36 PM

A rare parade of planets will be visible in the predawn sky this weekend for UAE sky watchers and sky gazers worldwide.

It’s said just before sunrise Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn will be visible with the naked eyes in an arc on 24 June 2022.

Hasan Al Hariri, CEO-Dubai Astronomy Group, opined, “it is one of the rare astronomical phenomena, to see the lineup to its fullest extent. Enthusiasts need to rise as dawn begins to brighten the sky. Keep in mind that it will be decades before you'll have another opportunity to see the planets and the Moon arranged in such a manner. So, don't miss this chance.”

He explained, the best views will be either from an elevated area above any tall buildings or trees, or from a shoreline where you can look out over open water to a flat sea horizon.

Explaining in detail the science behind this rare phenomenon that happens in almost two decades Sarath Raj, Project Director – Amity Dubai Satellite Ground Station and AmiSat, Amity University Dubai says:

“The term ‘planetary alignment’ refers to the planets aligning at the same time. The planets orbit the sun along different paths at different speeds. The planets do not all revolve in the same plane properly in reality. Instead, they sway in a three-dimensional space on various orbits. They will never be exactly aligned because of this. As a result, planetary alignment does not imply a literal lining up, but rather that some of the planets are in the same broad sky region.”

In astronomy, a conjunction occurs when two celestial objects or spacecraft have the same right ascension or ecliptic longitude, as measured from Earth.

Five planets align once in every 19 years

“Three planets align on one side of the Sun twice a year, four planets once a year, five planets once every 19, and all eight planets once every 170 years,” he adds.

The five planets last aligned in December 2004, and experts reveal the next alignment won't happen until 2040 because of different orbits and its tilts.

They also explain Mercury will be faintest early in the month and difficult to spot without binoculars.

“Venus will show brightly just above the horizon, while to the southeast, red Mars, which is close to Jupiter, will be visible. Saturn will be visible further south on the arc and Mercury will be dim against the rising Sun and hardest to see. Mercury is closest to the sun and appears lowest on the horizon, while Saturn is farthest away and appears highest in the sky.”

“On a cloudless morning, the planets will be visible around 45-60 minutes before sunrise. Though these planets can be viewed with the naked eye, they will be much sharper when using binoculars and will not be obstructed by sunlight due to their proximity to the horizon,” underlines Raj.

The planets orbit the sun at various speeds and on different trajectories, and the distance between them changes continually.

Raj further highlights, “The only known means for celestial bodies to have an impact on Earth are through direct contact, such as a collision, gravitational forces, and electromagnetic radiation. When planets align, they have no electromagnetic impact on Earth, and only their gravitational forces are felt. The variations in gravitational force on Earth caused by the alignment of any planets, which are tens to thousands of times weaker than the moon's, have no influence on the Earth.”

How to observe: Al Thuraya Astronomy Center and Dubai Astronomy Group is organizing a paid event to observe this during the early hours of Friday, June 24. The Stargazing programme will be held at Al Qudra Desert in Dubai before the break of dawn.

Event Program consists of the Saturn and Jupiter Observation, Arabian Astronomy/Sky Mapping Session (Stories about the Constellations), Mars Observation, Q & A Session, Moon Observation, attempting to observe Uranus and Neptune, Venus Observation and Mercury Observation. This entails telescope observation throughout the event of planets and deep sky objects and phone photography of celestial objects through the telescopes. The event will start from 1am and will end by 5am on June 24.

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