See Five Planets Align in the Early Morning Sky

If you’re a morning person the sky is offering you a rare treat for the next few weeks.

From January 20 to February 20 people around the world that wake up before dawn will be able to see five planets align. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter will be visible to the eye in the pre-dawn sky for the first time since 2005.

“The planets all orbit the Sun in a flat plane,” Stony Brook physics and astronomy professor Fredrick Walter said. “Since we are in that same plane, the planets all seem to move across the sky in a line which we call the ecliptic. The planets all move along the ecliptic at different rates and sometimes they end up on the same side of the sky. This happens every 10-20 years when Jupiter catches up with Saturn. Mars, Venus and Mercury move pretty fast.”

For those in the Northern Hemisphere the best time to view the five planets align is about 45 minutes before sunrise. Don’t worry about light pollution. Even those in the city can see the quintet of planets. Just look east.

As the brightest of the five, Venus is the planet you’ll likely see first. Jupiter is the second brightest and you’ll find Jupiter and Mars higher up in the sky. Mars gives off a faint red glow making it easier to identify.

Mercury will reach its highest point during the last week of January and first week of February. Those will be the best weeks to see the five planets align. Worth setting that alarm clock for if you’re not an early morning riser.