Eyes to the skies for a ‘planetary parade’

First published in Opinion The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by

Cross your fingers for a clear sky in the wee small hours of Saturday (March 22), because there'll be a veritable ‘planetary parade’ spread across the heavens for us to enjoy.

To enjoy the show you need to be outside around 1.30am and facing the south east, where you'll see a lovely almost last quarter Moon shining above the treetops. Looking to the Moon's upper right you'll see a yellow-white coloured star. This ‘star’ is actually the planet Saturn, the first float in the parade. To Saturn's upper right, fairly high in the south, you'll see the planet Mars shining like a brighter, orange-red star. Finally, far across in the west, to the lower right of Mars, you'll see Jupiter blazing brightly, a bright blue-white spark just a couple of hours away from setting.

This isn't a particularly special or noteworthy event; the planets line up like this all the time, and will form this trail across the sky for a while either side of Saturday. But having the Moon on the end of the line on the 22nd make that morning's view just a bit more special, and will help you figure out which planet is which.

Stuart Atkinson, Eddington Astronomical Society of Kendal

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