Washington, Aug 12 (ANI): Thursday's night sky would not only showcase the famed Perseid meteor shower but would also give skygazers an opportunity to see four planets, an asteroid, and the moon huddle together in the western sky in a celestial traffic jam, claim astronomers.
After more than a month of slowly converging, the planets Mars, Saturn, and Venus, will create their most impressive formation yet- a tight upside-down triangle in the evening sky.
Adding to the spectacle, Mercury and the asteroid Vesta should be visible near the planet triangle.
Called a conjunction-when celestial objects get close to each other in the sky-this is one event that observers worldwide won't need binoculars or telescopes to enjoy.
"Four out of the five planets visible with the naked eye can be seen all at once if you have an unobstructed view of the western horizon from the tenth to the fourteenth" of August, National Geographic News quoted Raminder Singh Samra, resident astronomer at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre in Vancouver, Canada, as saying.
Jupiter, which will rise in the eastern sky, will not be part of the conjunction.
The brightest of the trio, Venus, will be the first planet to pop into view.
"Venus is so bright it will be visible very shortly after sunset as the brightest thing in the sky. A few degrees away to its upper right will be Saturn ... while Mars will be to its upper left," said Geza Gyuk, staff astronomer at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago.
A degree is a measure of a span of sky that's comparable to two full moon disks side by side.
All the planets will easily fit inside the view of a pair of binoculars, said Gyuk-but to see Saturn and Mars, people will have to wait until the sky is darker.
Keen-eyed viewers can also catch sight of Mercury, the innermost planet in the solar system and Vesta, the second largest known asteroid.
"Observers with telescopes might want to spot the asteroid Vesta, as it will be just three degrees [six full moon disks] above and to the right of Saturn," the space centre's Samra said.
As an added treat on Thursday, the waxing crescent moon will hang below the planetary trio. By Friday night, the moon will climb up to the left of the conjunction.
Such an alignment of several worlds occurs only every few years or so, said Gyuk. (ANI)