SCIENCE

Stunning Photos Capture Planets In Rare Alignment

Venus, Mars and Jupiter won't be visible together again for another six years.
On Monday morning (Oct. 26), Venus was at its greatest elongation from the sun, and appeared close to Jupiter.
On Monday morning (Oct. 26), Venus was at its greatest elongation from the sun, and appeared close to Jupiter.

Stargazers got a glimpse of a rare astronomical event this week as Venus, Mars and Jupiter aligned in the night sky. The three planets will not be seen together again until January 2021.

The planets appeared to line up because of the timing of their orbits around the sun.

"Venus, Jupiter and Mars are doing what we might like to call a planetary dance, in that the planets are coming relatively close to each other, as we see them in the sky," Ian Musgrave of the University of Adelaide told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "Of course, they're actually separated by millions of miles [but] when the planets are close to each other in the sky we call this a planetary conjunction."

Stargazers out before dawn have been treated all week to the rare sight of Venus, Mars and Jupiter all brightly visible.
Stargazers out before dawn have been treated all week to the rare sight of Venus, Mars and Jupiter all brightly visible.

In photos, the planets appear as three bright dots in the sky. They were best viewed just before sunrise toward the east, and could be observed with binoculars or even the naked eye. 

Venus, the brightest of the three, appeared the highest, followed by Mars and then Jupiter.

Venus shines the brightest of the three planets while it clusters close to Jupiter. Mars hangs faintly off to the s
Venus shines the brightest of the three planets while it clusters close to Jupiter. Mars hangs faintly off to the side.

On Monday, Jupiter and Venus were especially close to each other. For the rest of the week Venus moved closer to Mars, and on Thursday the three planets formed a neat triangle. 

Jupiter and Venus shine close to each other, and Mars remains visible and apart from them.
Jupiter and Venus shine close to each other, and Mars remains visible and apart from them.

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