If you’re an early riser that enjoys looking at planets, this is your week. If you’re not an early riser try to get out this week to see something spectacular. Four planets are visible in the eastern morning sky. Take a look over to the east before sunrise on any clear morning this week and you’ll see the second-brightest object in the night sky, Venus. Just below Venus you’ll see Mars and Jupiter invading one another’s personal space (not really, they are currently 354 million miles apart). And way down toward the brightening horizon you’ll see Mercury. Because Mercury is so close to the sun (36 million miles, average) it’s a hard one to spot without an unobstructed view of the horizon. Mercury is best viewed from a higher location with no trees blocking the view or from a beach with a clear view to the east. But if you miss Mercury don’t worry about it- there are other great things happening. A three-planet conjunction of Venus, Mars and Jupiter is shaping up in the morning sky. They are closing in so near to one another that on the morning of October 26th two fingers held at arms length would cover the three planets. These three planets haven’t shared so close a visual proximity since November 1995. The next time these planets get together will be in 2018. So, even if you are not an early riser this may be the perfect opportunity for you to get up and to finally check off from your bucket list “See four planets in the sky at the same time.” Enjoy the view.
Michael E. Palmer is a writer and photographer based in Alabama.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org