Planets dance together in the morning sky

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.

How the planets will be arranged on 17 October
How the planets will be arranged on 17 October, pictured using Stellarium. Image credit: Skymania

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.

Jupiter and Venus
Jupiter and Venus make a close “double star” on 26 October, as shown using Stellarium. Image credit: Skymania

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.

Mars and Venus
Mars and Venus come close on 3 November, as shown on this Stellarium chart. Image credit: Skymania

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By Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland has been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. He writes regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy, plus he has authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.

3 thoughts on “Planets dance together in the morning sky

  • 10/09/2015 at 3:32 pm

    A question for you from an old school friend! What time would I be able to see this in Grenada, 12.1 degrees north, 61.7 west?

  • 10/09/2015 at 3:58 pm

    Hi Steve! Around the world, the best time is an hour or two before local sunrise.

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