For most of this year, you will be able to catch many planets present near each other in the night sky, creating some cool astronomical perspectives without fancy equipment. This weekend, you will see an asteroid trilogy that will not happen for another five years. Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn will be in a solid little triangle in the eastern sky just before dawn. You will see Jupiter the brightest object in the east-south-east direction and you will able to see Mercury above it and Saturn on the right before dawn become very bright.
This spectacle is visible in both hemispheres and their proximity marks the beginning of a series of planetary connections. Next week, March 5, Jupiter and Mercury will merge with each other, and just a few days later (March 9-10), you will see these two forms a straight line across the sky all the way from Saturn. At their apparent speed across the night sky – at least, from our point of view of the Earth – the planets move very close at times. In December 2020, our Jupiter and Saturn (“great” because it involved the two largest bodies in the solar system) had a great combination, which happened every 20 years. If we are not so different about which planets are involved, events often happen. It said that facing three planets in the sky is still quite rare. The next one will be Tuesday, Saturday and Wednesday 20 April 2026 just before dawn once again.
How to watch
The planetary trio is best in the evening from Friday to Monday. EarthSky said all three would be less visible in the western sky, closer to the sunset on the horizon. On Sunday, January 10, the three planets will be close together, fitting inside a circle 2 ½ degrees in diameter at 19:00 UTC.
Clear conditions will be required to identify the planets but they will be present together for several days. As always, it is important to find an area away from bright city lights for the best viewing conditions. Binoculars will be useful for spotting all three, but they will also be visible to the naked eye. Another way to improve your experience is to view the event from a high vantage point with a very clear view of the horizon line.
Jupiter will be the brightest of the planets, then Mercury, then Saturn – this will make it the most spectacular. It is important to look for planets within 30 minutes of sunset – anytime later and they will come down below the horizon. After their combination, the mercury will continue to rise higher in the sky, while Jupiter and Saturn will soon sink, soon disappearing completely from sight. Wednesday, January 24th will be the longest ever.