Stargazers will get a rare triple planetary treat this weekend with Jupiter, Mercury and Mars appearing to nestle together in the predawn skies. About 45 minutes before dawn on Sunday those three planets will be so close that the average person's thumb can obscure all three from view. They will be almost as close together on Saturday and Monday, but Sunday they will be within one degree of each other in the sky. Three planets haven't been that close since 1925, said Miami Space Transit Planetarium director Jack Horkheimer. And it won't happen again until 2053, he said. The planets are actually hundreds of millions of miles apart, but the way the planets orbit the sun make it appear they are neighbors in the east-southeastern skies. They'll be visible in most parts of the world — in the Western Hemisphere, as far south as Buenos Aires and as far north as Juneau, Alaska, Horkheimer said. "It is a lovely demonstration of the celestial ballet that goes on around us, day after day, year after year, millennium after millennium," said Horkheimer. "When I look at something like this, I realize that all the powers on Earth, all the emperors, all the money, cannot change it one iota. We are observers, but the wonderful part of that is that we are the only species on this planet that can observe it and understand it." In ancient times, people thought the close groupings of planets had deep meaning, said Krupp. Now, he said, "it's absolutely something fun to look for."
Source: Associated Press