Mariana Suarez/AFP via Getty Images
This week, you have the opportunity to familiarize yourself with some of our neighbors in the solar system and reduce some of your usage time.
Who are they? Everything depends on the weather. But Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, Uranus, and Mars are dazzling us earthlings this week.
What’s the big deal? In the next two nights, the planets are expected to align.
- It’s an opportunity to view a “planetary parade,” according to Rick Fienberg, senior contributing editor of the Sky and Telescope magazine. And he says you won’t need a telescope — though some binoculars, an unobstructed view of the horizon, and clear skies will certainly help.
- This is fine, although not particularly unusual, says Jackie Faherty, astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History.
- “I want people to want to come out and look up. I want people to be excited about looking at the stars and the planets. Right now, what’s happening is something that you don’t realize is happening quite a bit, which is the planets. up a lot. It’s not a particularly rare event, but it’s an event that you should celebrate and you should want to go out and see.”
- What you see depends largely on where you are, NPR’s Joe Hernandez reports. Those in the northern hemisphere can better capture these celestial vibes.
- Venus will be the brightest, so it may be easier to see. Red Mars will shine brightly near the moon, while nearby Uranus may be dim and visible only through binoculars.
Want more science journalism? Listen to Think About It episode in the most successful global public health plan you’ve probably never heard of.
What are people saying?
Fienberg’s tips for getting a glimpse:
Wait until the sun sets and then go outside and look low in the bright part of the sky where the sun has set with binoculars, and you should see brighter Jupiter next to faint Mercury.
Faherty on the recent increased public interest in all kinds of astronomical phenomena:
The night sky is the Netflix original. It’s the original entertainment, and people have lost that, because they’re not connected to looking up, and they’re connected to looking at their phone or their tablet or their computer or whatever. Because it matters [can be] bright in the sky, when you accidentally look up, they will look remarkable to you.
Fienberg on waves of interest in astronomy:
Most people don’t pay as much attention to the night sky as astronomy enthusiasts do, so they may not realize that some of the bright dots above even have planets. So when the planets are visible at the same time at a certain time of the year, it becomes a news story and suddenly people pay attention to the planets.
So, what now?