You don't see one planet, but two planets in the night sky this weekend

Jupiter (center left) and Mars (center left below) appear next to each other in the sky, above Ely in Cambridgeshire. (Photo by Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images)

Memorial Day Unofficial weekend may begin at the beginning of summer, and this weekend brings extra special fun to the night sky.

Mars and Jupiter will get incredibly close in the dawn sky on the nights of May 27-30.

NASA says The two planets will appear 20 degrees or so above the horizon in the eastern and southeastern sky. as you lookthey will appear very close to each other, no more than the width of a raised finger.

NASA says Mars will be the Mars to the right of Jupiter.


Sky chart showing how Jupiter and Mars will appear in the pre-sunrise sky on May 28-30. Source: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Mars is more than 136 million miles away, and Jupiter’s distance is nearly four times that. NASA says Jupiter will be the brighter of the two. That’s because Mars is much smaller and reflects much less sunlight.

It may be necessary to use binoculars or a telescope to clearly observe Mars, said Alphonse Sterling, an astronomer at NASA. But he noted that observers should have no trouble identifying Jupiter, even with the naked eye.

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The best time to see the pairing is about 45 minutes before the local sunrise. Sunday, just before 4 a.m. CST, is the time when pairing will peak.

A conjunction is a celestial event in which two planets and a planet and a moon or a planet and a star appear near the Earth’s night sky. The conjunctions don’t have deep astrological significance but they are good to display.

Mars will catch up with Jupiter again and pass it through another conjunction in August 2024.

This story was reported from Detroit.


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