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How to see Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn in rare relationships this weekend



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The two largest worlds and the smallest planets in the solar system appear this weekend.

NASA

Three planets appear at dusk this weekend, when Jupiter and Saturn are still cooling together at last month’s afterparty a rare Great Union, will join just above the western to southwestern horizons of the more flying planet Mercury.

The planetary trio is a rare sight that can be seen with the naked eye just after sunset for the next few days. Saturday night offers perhaps the best opportunity to see the three worlds come together.

Astronomy magazine reports that all planets will be visible within about 2.3 degrees tonight (this is approximately the width of your soft and ring fingers when held away from your body at arm’s length) Mercury will be the lowest of the three in the sky, Jupiter will be the brightest and Saturn will be the darkest.

Binoculars can help you get a better view, while even a cheap backyard telescope can offer a chance to see some of Jupiter’s larger moons. This may be a good idea to try when Mercury and Saturn disappear below the horizon and it’s a little darker outside.

To make sure you catch the whole trio, the key is to go outside immediately after sunset, as Mercury and Saturn will sink quickly below the horizon within an hour. Although the planets may be closest on Saturday, they will continue to gather as they swap over the next few nights, so you have a few shots to catch them as something like a space Pokemon game.

As always, if amateur astrophotographers among you take some great images of the celestial gathering, please share them with me on Twitter @EricCMack.

I follow CNET’s space calendar for 2021 to keep you up to date with all the latest space news this year. You can even add it to your own Google Calendar.




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