5 planets visible together in Singapore sky from today

Amateur astronomers attending a free stargazing session at the Science Centre in 2009.
Amateur astronomers attending a free stargazing session at the Science Centre in 2009.PHOTO: ST FILE

Early morning best time to see spectacle; moon joining in next week

From now until the middle of next month, a celestial spectacle will be visible to those who look to the eastern horizon at dawn.

Five planets - Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter - will appear together in the sky for the first time in a decade, and they will be visible to the naked eye in the early hours until Feb 20.

The best time to view the planets is in the early morning, between 5.45am and 6.15am, said Mr Albert Lim, assistant honorary secretary of the Astronomical Society of Singapore (Tasos).

According to science website EarthSky.org, this is the first time since 2005 that all five planets are appearing in the sky atthe same time.

He said: "It doesn't matter where you are. As long as you are at a location with a clear view of the eastern horizon, you will be able to see the planets, subject to weather and cloud conditions."

The planet closest to the horizon will be Mercury, followed by Venus, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter, in an upward arc.

The moon will join the group on Wednesday next week , the Science Centre Observatory said in a Facebook post yesterday.

On that day, the moon will be above Jupiter, which will be "more or less directly overhead at 6.30am", the post said.

Jupiter and Venus are the brightest of the planets. "Use these two planets to locate the others - Mars will be halfway between Jupiter and Venus, and Saturn will be approximately halfway between Venus and Mars," the observatory added.

According to science website EarthSky.org, this is the first time since 2005 that all five planets are appearing in the sky at the same time.

Mr Jason Kendall, who sits on the board of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York, said people may find it hard to differentiate the planets from twinkling stars, reported the New York Times.

He offered a simple tip: Close one eye, stretch out your arm and slowly pass your thumb over a bright dot in the sky. If the dot slowly dims out when your thumb passes over it, it is a planet. If it quickly blinks out, it is a distant star.

Engineer Leon Chen, 25, who is planning to catch the spectacle this weekend, said he is looking forward to seeing the planets.

He said: "As an amateur astronomer, I am really excited to see such a dazzling display of lights in the sky."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 21, 2016, with the headline '5 planets visible together in S'pore sky from today'. Print Edition | Subscribe