On astronomy — Consecutive planets | Lifestyles

Isn’t it comforting to see mother duck paddling, with her ducklings hanging out in a properly spaced row?

Here is another eye-catching sight. Later this month, about 45 minutes before sunrise, four of the brightest planets line up. Like ducklings lined up, the four planets stretch from the eastern horizon to the southeast, with each planet appearing a little higher as you look from left to right.

Going back to April 5, Mars and Saturn appeared very close to each other, with Venus a little to the east (left). But around April 12, Jupiter appears and the four planets are more evenly spaced.

The easternmost planet is the Roman king of the gods, Jupiter. It is the fifth planet from the Sun at about five times the solar distance from Earth.

Jupiter is the largest planet with 11 times the diameter of Earth and 318 times more massive.

The next planet to the right is Venus, the Roman god of love and beauty. Brilliant and beautiful, it is by far the brightest of the four planets. Venus is considered Earth’s sister planet because it is rocky and similar in size to Earth. Venus displays phases like the Moon. Observing a disc and phases is a test of big binoculars.

The next planet to the right is Mars, darker and redder, the Roman god of war. Mars is the most hospitable of the other planets, but visiting it is no picnic. It’s cold, dry, and has just enough atmosphere to cause severe dust storms.

Rightmost is the ringed planet Saturn, which is similar in brightness to Mars. Saturn is named after the Roman god of wealth and agriculture. Saturn is less dense than Earth, and if you could find a sea big enough to hold it, Saturn would float. The rings are a nice sight even in modest telescopes.

Also, on the morning of April 12, the distant planet Neptune appears to pass very close to Jupiter, but is far too dim to be seen without a telescope.

On April 18, the planets are more evenly spaced and further apart. On April 24, the new Moon is close to Saturn, but its very thin crescent will make it a challenge.

Every morning the Moon moves east, and it soon becomes too new to see. As the month progresses, the rapid wandering of Venus draws closer to Jupiter.

On April 30, Venus and Jupiter appear very, very close.

You may not be an early riser, but at around 6:15 a.m. a heartwarming sight unfolds in the sky. At least a few mornings, get out of those warm blankets and warm your soul.

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