Predawn Hours is hosting a planet-observing party for skywatchers this week. Jupiter, Venus, Mars, and Saturn will be visible in a diagonal line, associated with a waning crescent moon.
Look for this cosmic band in the sky between east and southeast before dawn. You can usually distinguish between planets and stars because they are brighter and less luminous. Jupiter will be at its lowest and far left, followed by Venus, Mars and Saturn making an invisible line moving up and to the right.
For detecting planets, an application like Stellarium can be very useful.
A fifth planet also appears in the night sky, but not at the same time. Mercury can be seen in the evening but will be absent before others appear in the morning.
The Four Kingdoms group will appear every morning for the rest of the month as the moon wanes in the sky. Until the end of April, we’ll see this smiling moon slip under the planetary lineup on successive nights. It will locate Saturn on April 25, Mars the following night, and both Jupiter and Venus on April 27.
Venus and Jupiter will continue to approach each other until they appear roughly side by side in the sky on April 30. In fact, it’s their next appearance since 2016 and will likely be easier to see this time due to the more favorable positioning in relation to the emerging morning sun.
Of course, there is no real danger of collision between the planets, because they are actually millions of kilometers away. It looks close to Earth from our perspective. If Venus got anywhere near Jupiter, it would likely be pulled by the gravity of the gas giant and end up being swallowed up. That is if it is not destroyed, as it will be pelted first by dozens of Jupiter’s moons.
This would provide a truly rare and terrifying display in the night sky if that was the case.
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