Lune et planètes au crépuscule. © Shelley, Fotolia

it hasn’t happened since 2004!

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[EN VIDÉO] A 9th planet in the Solar System?
Astronomers are convinced. There would be a 9th planet on the edge of the Solar System!

For several weeks, you need to get up early to attend the conjunctions of planets and other celestial spectacles such as thelunar eclipse and the shooting star storm tau Herculides (Last Monday) !

Now, a week later Mars crossed Jupiter at dawn in a corner of the sky, five planets from the solar system appear together to the east, at the end of the night. Five perfectly visible planets for theull naked, including the very bright Jupiter i Venus. It is certainly not the first time this year that we can admire them gathered at the same timebut the novelty – so to speak – for the coming weeks is that they are presented in their real order of distance with the Groundwhich has not happened since – from the perspective of the Earth – since … December 2004.

Mercury, currently the closest planet to Earth

So when you put the nas outside after 4 in the morning, you will find yourself aligned with the imaginary line of theecliptic (the plane of the orbits of the planets) in order from the lowest of the horizon to the highest: Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Wednesday also, but this Friday, June 3, it arrives just before sunrise, and therefore it will still be very low, so difficult to distinguish in the glows of dawn. Next week will be much better as it goes up.

In parentheses, as we are talking Wednesdaynote that most small planet of the Solar System, also the closest to the Sun, is currently the closest to the Earth. It is not Venus or Mars, but Mercury with about 92 million kilometers (only) that separates us today, against 184.6 million Venus and 216 million Mars, our usual neighbors. Naturally, this is constantly changing, to the rhythm of everyone’s revolutions.

Of the five visible planets, Saturn is the first to leave, around 2 in the morning. It is followed by Jupiter and Mars, above the east, an hour and a half later.

Gift of the sky: five planets lined up in 2018

Article by Xavier Demeersmann published on October 17, 2018

What a wonder in heaven this beginning ofdrop, very soft. As soon as the sun sets, you can observe the appearance of the five brightest planets. But it’s not just them to see …

This summer, and especially in July, almost all the planets in the Solar System, except of course Earth, were visible during the night. Some without instruments and others with the help of binoculars or telescopes. There was even one comet flirting with the naked eye visibility limit (C / 2017 S3 Panstarrs) and a famous asteroid (View) …

Three months later, all the planets reunite at night. You can easily see the five brightest ones as soon as the sun rises, when the sky is full of stars. Venus and Mercury first, in the first light of the evening. However, this is at the limit because both are very low on the horizon and therefore disappear very quickly. Also, to have more possibilities to observe them, it is necessary to favor the places with a very clear western horizon.

The Moon is invited in the middle of the aligned planets

A little higher in the sky, you’ll notice that Jupiter “lights up” above the southwestern horizon. He giant planet is one of the stars the brightest of the evening with the Moon of course and Mars. The Moon, precisely, imposes itself in the middle of this alignment of planets. This afternoon of October 17 can be seen radiating between Saturn and Mars. Tomorrow evening, faithful to his route and also a little “older” than the first quarter, he is invited right next to the Red Planet. Watch as the latter continues to shine vigorously. True, not so much as in the middle of summer, but its glow still pierces the night.

Neptune is also further east in Aquarius. But to distinguish it, it is better to arm yourself with binoculars or, of course, a telescope or a telescope. Same per Uranus, another distant planet, rising from the horizon these days when others are sinking. We also add this Plutoconsidered as a the planetthere is also one, faintly shining between Saturn and Mars.

Quotes to observe in the autumn sky

Finally, remember that comet 21P / Giacobini-Zinner it continues its celestial walk. She is right now in the vicinity of the glare Siriusto the Great gos. A word of advice: to wait to see it (on an instrument), wait until the end of the night until it is high enough in the sky.

You can’t miss it either, especially in the coming weeks: 46P / Wirtanen. It is advertised as “the comet of the year”. Nothing less! On December 16, Wirtanen will be the tenth closest comet to Earth since the 1950s. At that time, many experts believe it will be visible to the naked eye. For the time being, he continues to travel discreetly in the depths of the autumn night, inside the constellation del Forn. A beautiful perspective view.

Beautiful alignment of planets to observe until February 20

Article by Xavier Demeersman published on January 21, 2016

Warning for all the curious, and especially the early risers: the five brightest planets are visible together at the end of the night for a month, between January 20 and February 20, 2016. No instrument is needed to admire this quite rare. planetary alignment. On certain dates, the waning moon will shine beside it.

astrumcelestial body; asters planetswandering star. “It simply came to our notice then planasthai“wander here and there, get out of the way” wrote theastrophysicist Daniel Kunth in his book words from heaven (CNRS edition). In the sky, we know a handful of these wandering stars that, as our ancestors observed a few millennia ago (in Babylon, in China, and probably elsewhere and before …), are distinguished from the so-called “fixed” articulated stars. .en constellation, for its mobility. At least at first glance, their movements are noticeable, for several cases, from one week to the next. It’s one of the ways to make a difference with others light accessories. We now know that these bright spots have a nature physics different from the distant stars (the planets are daughters of the stars, “sons of the Sun”) and all take the path of the ecliptic, through the twelve, and even thirteen, constellations of the zodiac (Ophicuhus is the thirteenth), due to its orbits around the Sun.

On the eight planets of the Solar System (and even maybe we according to the latest news), five are observable without an instrument: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn (as a reminder, they are associated with five of the seven days of the week). As for Uranus and Neptunetheir great distances from the Earth always prevented them from being seen.

A rather rare circumstance: at the end of the night, between January 20 and February 20, 2016, five of these wandering stars are visible together. Indeed, once Mercury has come out (it is near the southeastern horizon), about an hour before the Sun enters its first rays, we can admire with our own eyes all these planets aligned in the celestial vault, between the southeast. and west, southwest.

Arrival time of the planets in alignment

Of course, to make the most of this relatively rare spectacle (the last time it happened was between December 15, 2004 and January 15, 2005), it’s best to stay away from light pollution because it harms the brightness of the stars, and point an instrument, if you have one, at each of those stars. With a simple binocular, for example, one can distinguish the phases of the bright Venus, or the four Galilean satellites of Jupiter (discovered by Galileo).

It is the latter that opens the ball. At the moment, the giant planet emerges from the eastern horizon shortly before 22:00 (metropolitan France time), giving a show to a series ofastronomers lovers facing the cold of winter their striped equatorial bands, the traffic from his red dot and, of course, the ballet of their moons (visible through binoculars). Four hours later, just before 2 a.m. March red joins it. Then it’s Saturn’s turn to enter the scene, around 4:45 am, followed about an hour later by Venus (around 6 am). Finally, when Mercury appears in the light of dawn, the five protagonists meet again.

Note that the waning moon will alternately be in conjunction with these planets until February 6. First gibbous with Jupiter on January 27 and 28, then on January 30, passes through Spica (the brightest star of Virgo), on February 1, appears in the last quarter next to Mars, and two nights later, on February 3, it shines near Saturn. Finally, on February 5th and 6th, there will be beautiful, fine lunar crescents at dawn, not far from Venus and Mercury. We add that the most informed will no doubt take advantage of this to try to observe a small body in the Solar System: the comet C / 2013 US10 (Catalina). Almost visible to the naked eye at the beginning of this new year due to its activity, the star continues its journey to the confines of the Solar System through the circumpolar constellations of Giraffe ii of the Little Bear.

To return to this end-of-night meeting of five planets, know that if for reasons of weather report or unavailability, you can not admire them, it will be possible to catch up this summer with a new alignment of five planets, this time at the beginning of the night, between 13 and 19 August. At the same time, many curious people will pay attention to the last sighs of theannually rainshooting stars from Perseids.

Remember, for those of you who don’t have one yet, you can simulate the sky and the sky movement planets to yours computer (Mac OS, Windows or linux) with the software free Stellarium. As through many applications per smartphones (iOS i Android), of which we presented a selection last summer.

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