A rare parade of planets will be visible in the night sky this weekend for UAE sky watchers.
The UAE will witness a great conjunction between Venus and Saturn on Sunday, after sunset for an hour and a half.
Shedding light on this astronomical phenomenon, Ibrahim Al Jarwan, Chairman of the Emirates Astronomy Board states, “A planetary conjunction between ‘Venus’ and ‘Saturn’ will take place on Sunday, January 22, after sunset for an hour and a half. It can be seen with the naked eye in the UAE in the absence of clouds.”
The planets will appear close enough together in the sky to be seen through a telescope as well as the naked-eye and the conjunction will be visible across the globe.
According to space.com, “These two planets, plus a crescent moon, will be putting on an ever-changing display in the dusk during this weekend on into the start of next week. The planets will sink lower as the twilight deepens.”
Venus will outshine Saturn – it will get even brighter as it continues to climb into the post-sunset sky as a brilliant “Evening Star.” It will appear to be a brilliant white, and Saturn will appear as a dull yellow colour in the sky. The planetary pair will be only 0.4 degrees apart that evening.
According to Earthsky.org, “Very young waxing crescent moon – a little over a day old – (will hang) below the pair near the horizon.”
The website also states that on January 25 and 26, the Moon will be near Jupiter.
“The waxing crescent moon shines below Jupiter after sunset on January 25, 2023, and above the planet on January 26. Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, has been dominant in the evening sky for months.”
Explaining in detail the science behind such rare phenomenon, Sarath Raj, Project Director – Amity Dubai Satellite Ground Station and AmiSat, Amity University Dubai, earlier said,
“The term ‘planetary alignment’ refers to the planets aligning at the same time. The planets orbit the sun along different paths at different speeds. The planets do not all revolve in the same plane properly in reality. Instead, they sway in a three-dimensional space on various orbits. They will never be exactly aligned because of this. As a result, planetary alignment does not imply a literal lining up, but rather that some of the planets are in the same broad sky region.”
In astronomy, a conjunction occurs when two celestial objects have the same right ascension or ecliptic longitude, as measured from Earth.