Featured Image Credit: Alarmy
Stargazers are in for a treat next month, as starting in April the northern hemisphere will be privy to an extraordinarily rare alignment of four planets and the moon, which will all be visible in the night sky at once.
Despite everything currently happening on Earth, cosmically speaking 2022 is set to be a relatively quiet year for astronomical events, with a few noticeable exceptions.
Over the course of the next few months, astrophotographers will be graced with an uncommon grouping of four planets from our solar system – Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Venus – which along with the moon will all be visible at once and aligned together in a straight line.
Saturn has already been in pole position for most of this month, but due to its close proximity to the sun it has been mostly invisible to the naked eye as it hides behind the sunlight. However, it will soon be visible in the early morning sky starting at the end of March.
But once the skies begin to lighten in the early morning of 24 and 25 March, Venus and Mars will soon start to become visible too, joining with Saturn to form a triangle in the sky with Mars leaning to the right and Saturn tucked away in the lower left.
These three planets will be visible for 60 minutes before sunrise, between 5.54am on 24 March, and 5.52am on 25 March, and will visible to the naked eye. Mars will appear orange, Saturn will be a slightly brighter yellowy-white, and Venus will be the brightest of the three and form the tip of the triangle, Science Focus reports.
They will be joined shortly afterwards by a crescent moon, which will join the parade on 28 March.
After some more celestial manoeuvring, by 4 April 2022 Saturn and Mars will reach conjunction with each other, which means they will appear with nearly identical brightness in the night sky. They will then be joined by the crown jewel of the solar system itself, Jupiter, which will turn up to complete the set on 20 April, taking its place on the lowest part of the horizon.
Following this, after a few more days in the cosmic oven the planets will (literally) align, forming a straight line in the night sky that can be viewed with the naked eye at around 5.30am on 26 April, with the moon hanging around to round out the set.
So there you go stargazers – set your alarm and get your cameras ready.
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