Planetary Alignment of all the Five Planets in the Sky in January-February 2016

All Visible Planet
Only Five Planets can be seen with naked eyes. Credit: astrointerest.

One of the rare events is currently going on in the morning night sky. Whenever someone goes out for star gazing, always asks, “Is there any planet visible?” This time not one or two planets but all the five planets can be seen in a straight line simultaneously in the morning sky. Yes, you read correctly, the planet Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn can be seen at the same time in the morning sky just before the sunrise.

This astronomical event will be visible from 20 January to 20 February.  You need to get up early in the morning to view all the planets. You need to first locate the brightest object which is the planet Venus. In the slight south and upward, you can locate the Saturn which is also sufficiently bright. The moving ahead in straight line you can see a faint reddish object which is Mars. Then, moving ahead in the straight line by the distance equal to between Venus and Mars, there is bright object that is Jupiter. But where is the planet Mercury?

Planetary alignment 21 January
All five planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn at the same time in morning sky on 21 January, 2016. (Credit: astrointerest using Stellarium Software)

The planet Mercury is closest to the Sun, so it will be very close to horizon and with the rise, the Mercury will start coming into view.  The Mercury can be seen just before the sunrise, so you need to be there around 20 min before sunrise to view Mercury. Although these planets are visible from 20 January to 20 February but the planet Mercury is very difficult to view. Thus, the best time for watching is around last week of January and First week of February after that the planet Mercury will be below horizon and will be lost in the glare of Sun.

See also:
How do Venus and Mercury act as Morning and Evening star?

These planets are appearing in straight line but this does not mean that they are aligning in the space. The planets are present at different locations which are not in the line but from the Earth they are just appearing in the line.  This line of alignment is actually the path in which these planet orbit around the Sun and is called ecliptic. The Sun also follows the same path in the sky and moon is also not far from this path.

Although, these planets are easily visible to naked eyes, but you can have a better look if you have binoculars or telescope. For best view, you need to find a place where sky is clear and light pollution is very less. To view Mercury better, you need to find a place which is high enough to avoid all the trees and house etc. to give better view of horizon.

Planet Alignment
All five planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn at the same time in morning sky on 20 February, 2016. (Credit: astrointerest using Stellarium Software)

This event is one of the rare events and happening after more than a decade. All the planets appeared in the line last time from mid-December 2004 to mid-January 2005. All these planets can be seen again in August. That time they will be visible in the evening sky just after sunset. After that they can only be viewed in October 2018.

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1 thought on “Planetary Alignment of all the Five Planets in the Sky in January-February 2016”

  1. There are not five planets during the morning sky, 6 planets. Why are you forgetting the Earth. When you are looking the Mercury on the horizon, then you were looking the Earth.

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