Rare planetary event will see Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn align in SA skies

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There will be a rare planetary event that will be visible from SA.
There will be a rare planetary event that will be visible from SA.
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A rare planetary conjunction has Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn forming a diagonal line in the morning sky.

A conjunction takes place when planets, stars or the moon appear close together in the sky.

According to the South African Astronomical Observatory, Venus – shining brightly as the Morning Star – is joined by the other four planets. Venus will move close to Jupiter towards the end of the month, with both planets moving towards the moon on Wednesday 27 April. Mars and Saturn will move close to the moon from Monday 25 April.

The unusual formation comes as all of the planets' orbits around the sun are lining up, according to Nasa – no small feat, considering that while Venus' orbit around the sun is 225 Earth days, Saturn's is 29 years.

Dr Daniel Cunnama, science engagement astronomer at the South African Astronomical Observatory, said the planets would be quite easy to spot before dawn, forming "a perfect line" to the east of the morning sky.

He says the event has happened three times in the last 20 years.

But stargazers will have an even more unusual conjunction to witness later this year, says Cunnama.

"On 24 June, all seven of the other planets will be visible, although Neptune and Uranus are not visible to the naked eye."



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