(Photo : Accuweather.com)
(Photo : NASA.gov)
Occurring on Sunday May 26th will be a relatively rare astronomical phenomenon nicknamed "Dance of the Planets" that is not slated to occur again until October 2015.
The phenomenon, more specifically, will be a triple planetary conjunction in which Venus, Jupiter and Mercury will line up to form a bright triangle, visible to the naked eye in the night sky.
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What makes this conjunction extra-extraordinary is that the three planets that will be aligning are the three brightest planets visible in the sky at this time of year. Venus takes top spot as the brightest, most visible of the three, followed by Jupiter and then Mercury.
The three planets will have been visible to sky-watchers on Friday and Saturday night and will continue to shine on Monday and Tuesday, gradually dimming as the week goes on. Sunday, however, the planetary alignment will be the brightest, as the three planets will be closest in proximity to each other - appearing within a 3-degree field.
Additionally, Tuesday May 28th will mark another rare astronomical vision, with Venus and Jupiter appearing very close together, separated by just one degree.
Sunday's event will be visible to stargazers across the country, even in urban areas where pollution tends to block out the starry skies. The only issue that may hamper visibility are clouds.
Although the conjunction will be visible without astronomical paraphernalia, you may want to use binoculars or a telescope for an - optional - clearer view.
NASA has posted viewing instructions for this event on its Web site, urging readers to "let Venus be your guide."
According to NASA, the best time to view this "dance of the planets" will be 30-60 minutes after sunset, in the west-northwestern sky and close to the horizon. Venus will emerge first and brightest, so it's advised that once you locate Venus, you point your binoculars in that direction. As the other two planets become visible, all three should be able to be seen through your binoculars simultaneously. NASA then advises that as twilight fades and the sky becomes darker, binoculars will no longer be necessary and the conjunction should be easily visible to the naked eye.
Such a planetary lineup is considered a rarity in the field of astronomy, with the last such conjunction having occurred in May 2011. The next one is not expected to happen again until October 2015.