Everyone loves a parade. And if you happen to be awed by planets, stars and other stuff that’s shining in the sky, you’ll want to check out what some observers are calling a “parade of planets” coming during the next several days.
The planetary parade of sorts will occur when Jupiter, Venus, Mars and Saturn all appear to be lined up in a row above the horizon during the pre-dawn hours — starting Saturday morning, April 23. The alignment will also be visible during the next few mornings, and April’s crescent moon will soon join the parade, according to experts from LiveScience and AccuWeather.
“Planetary alignments occur when the planets’ orbits bring them to the same region of the sky, when viewed from Earth,” LiveScience notes. “These planetary alignments are not rare, but they’re not regularly occurring, either: The last time five planets aligned in the night sky was in 2020, preceded by alignments in 2016 and 2005.”
In New Jersey, New York and other areas of the United States, the best time to see the upcoming alignment of the planets will be about an hour before sunrise, according to NBC News. Just make sure you look into the southeastern sky.
The sun is scheduled to rise in the New York City region at 6:05 a.m. on Saturday, 6:04 a.m. on Sunday, 6:02 a.m. on Monday, 6:01 a.m. on Tuesday and 5:59 a.m. on Wednesday.
“The crescent moon will appear near the four planets about an hour before sunrise on Monday, April 25, and Tuesday, April 26,” according to AccuWeather.
To see the parade of planets, experts say, you won’t need a telescope or binoculars — just your eyes and clear skies. And you’ll have to wake up early.
In case you’re wondering how to identify the planets in the sky, LiveScience says “Mars will be an orange dot below and to the left of Saturn, while Venus will be a brighter light below and to the left of Mars. Jupiter will be lowest and left-most in the sky.”
Other spring sky events
The annual Lyrid meteor shower — the first major meteor shower of the year — reached its peak Thursday night into early Friday morning, but astronomy experts say Friday night should be another good viewing opportunity if the sky is clear. And a few shooting stars will still be visible during the late-night and early-morning hours through April 29.
The next big sky event will occur next month, with a total lunar eclipse on tap for the late-night hours on Sunday, May 15, into the early morning or Sunday, May 16. The eclipse, the first of two in 2022, is expected to be visible from the United States, along with the rest of North America as well as South America, Africa, Europe and parts of Asia.
The May lunar eclipse will be followed by two consecutive “supermoons” — one on June 14 and another on July 13. Those are full moons that look slightly bigger and brighter than an average full moon because their orbit is closer to the Earth.
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Len Melisurgo may be reached at LMelisurgo@njadvancemedia.com.