Early-risers will be treated to some spectacular alignments of the planets over the next few weeks as three worlds pirouette in the morning sky. Venus, Mars and Jupiter are all easy to find now before dawn, and Mercury will join them for a while in mid-October.
The remarkable scene will be enhanced when the waning Moon passes among the planetary grouping in the next couple of days and again from 6 – 8 November.
There will be a few close encounters between the planets, beginning with that shown in our first chart, between Mars and the brighter Jupiter, around 17 October, 2015.
Then another close grouping occurs when Jupiter and Venus are close together on 26 October, with the fainter Mars not very far away.
Finally in this set of encounters, Mars and the much brighter Venus close in together on 3 November.
Mercury does not come close to the other worlds but may be seen low over the eastern horizon from around the end of the second week in October until a week or so later. The writer glimpsed it with binoculars in bright twilight this morning from the UK, where he has an unobstructed sea horizon. Mars will be at Opposition and so a lot brighter next year. We have charts here in our guide on how to view the Red Planet.