Waking up before dawn can be a drag. But for the next few weeks, there's a good
reason to wake up early - and something to open your eyes even better than
coffee! Four planets are aligning in the morning sky. Look out any east-facing
window before sunrise. If you have a clear view of the horizon, you'll see
Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter clustered together in a patch of sky less than
10 degrees wide. If you wanted to, you could hide them all behind your
outstretched hand - but don't do that. The view is too good to hide.
The best mornings are the ones around May 11th, when Venus and Jupiter converge
to form a tight pair, side by side. They are so bright, they might fool you into
thinking you've witnessed a double supernova beaming through the morning
twilight. But, no, it's just the two brightest planets in our own solar system.
The quartet of worlds will rearrange themselves on a daily basis, forming
different shapes in the pre-dawn sky. On May 8th, for instance, Venus, Jupiter
and Mars will form a diagonal line. Trace your finger from Venus through Jupiter
and it will lead you straight down to the red planet.
On May 13th, Mercury, Venus and Jupiter will rearrange themselves as vertices of
a bright celestial triangle — almost equilateral. A geometry lesson before
On May 20th, a new triangle will appear. This time the vertices are Mars, Venus,
The show comes to an end on May 30th when an exquisite crescent Moon joins the
four planets for a Grand Finale - five heavenly lights dotting the eastern sky
all at once. What a way to begin the day.
For more information about the Great Morning Planet Show of May 2011, please