Planets cluster around the Sun

If the sky seems rather empty of planets at the moment, it is because so many are clustered close to the Sun. Amateur astronomers can rise early to catch beautiful Saturn rising late in the night.

Anotated SoHo imageBut meanwhile a rare conjunction of four bright planets has been visible with space telescopes.

The worlds – Jupiter, Venus, Mercury and Mars – were all too close to the solar glare to be seen from Earth.

But the close grouping could be seen in single images from a solar satellite called SoHo (the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) as it monitored our parent star over the weekend.

Last week, Mercury pased in front of the Sun in a rare transit which was visible from America and the Pacific region. Picture: SpaceWeather.com.

Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.
Paul Sutherland

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Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.

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