Three Planet Sight – See More Than Just Fireworks in the Sky Tonight

Venus, Mercury and Jupiter will convene in a rare three planet sight tonight. A triple conjunction.
Venus, Mercury and Jupiter will convene in a rare three planet sight tonight. A triple conjunction.

As you’re watching the Memorial Day fireworks tonight, something else more than just fireworks to see in the sky tonight. A rare three planet celestial dance will take place with Jupiter, Mercury and Venus taking center stage. The three planets will convene in a triangle formation low in the western sky according to astrologists.

When two or more planets meet in the sky at the same time it is referred to as a conjunction. The conjunction to be on display tonight will be a triple conjunction due to the presence of three planets. “Triple conjunctions of planets are fairly rare,” according to astronomer Tony Phillips  “The last time it happened was in May 2011 and it won’t happen again until October 2015.” He explains this in a NASA observation guide.

Planets are commonly visible in the night sky on their own, but their appearance is similar to a bright star, causing us to sometimes ignore their presence. However when a conjunction, especially of the triple variety, makes those who witness its majestic beauty realize that they are in fact moving across the solar system and are much more than a simple star. “It reminds us that the sky isn’t static and unchanging, but [is] alive with motion and has a dynamic personality,”  Ben Burress, staff astronomer at Oakland’s Chabot Space and Science Center added.

While you’re watching the firework tonight, you might just want to attempt to see something far more rare than the grand finale in the sky tonight and observe this rare three planet sight. All three planets should easily be visible in the western sky without the assistance of binoculars. Once the smoke in the sky settles from your local fireworks show, than sit back and witness the sight of the three planet conjunction should be just enough to keep your get together captivated tonight.

Memorial Day is a special occasion in our country, honoring all those who have sacrificed everything they have for our country to ensure we can enjoy the freedom we cherish so dearly. This year it is made even more special by this contribution from outer space. This gift is something that we can all enjoy and remember, when something this rare falls on a holiday it certainly is special.

Although this conjunction was beginning its formation over the last two days, today is when the planets will convene at their tightest level. They will form an equilateral triangle, one with all sides the same length, spanning only two and a half degrees. Following today’s tight formation, Jupiter will continue to sink towards the horizon while Venus and Mercury will continue to rise higher into the sky.

A great part about this conjunction is that location doesn’t play a key role in being able to witness it. As long as you are not at an extremely high latitude, as in the arctic circle, you will be able to catch a glimpse of this astrological event. If you have plans that don’t allow for you to witness it tonight, you’re going to have to wait quite awhile before being able to see another one. The next is scheduled for October of 2015.

Follow me on Twitter @CharlieGille

The Guardian Express

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