Rare alignment of planets to light up the night sky for the first time in over a thousand years

Mars, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn appear in a straight line in the southeastern sky just before sunrise on Sunday.

The rare alignment of the four planets has not been seen for over 1000 years, since the year 947 AD.

Watch the video above to learn exactly how to catch the rare phenomenon

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“It’s very rare that you say the planets align and they do! Australian National University astrophysicist and cosmologist Dr Brad Tucker said Sunrise.

“It happens, but quite rarely.

“We often have Mars, Venus or even Jupiter joining together, but the fact that they’re all aligned and evenly spaced in the early morning sky is not only rare, it’s a treat because anyone can enjoy while you have clear weather.”

To see the planetary quartet, Southern Hemisphere skywatchers should exit about an hour before sunrise and look southeast.

“The trick here is to get out early in the morning,” said Tucker from Mittagong, NSW.

“What you want to do is go about an hour or an hour and a half before sunrise, so about 4:30 to 5 a.m. local time.

“Look east where the sun is rising, and what you’ll see is you’ll have Saturn at the top, followed by Mars, then Venus – Venus is the brightest – and finally Jupiter.”

If conditions are clear, all four planets will be bright enough to see with the naked eye, without the aid of binoculars or a telescope.

Mars, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn appear in a straight line in the southeastern sky just before sunrise on Sunday. Credit: Sunrise

Over the next few weeks, Jupiter and Saturn will come closer together, Tucker said.

Jupiter will be the second-brightest planet in the celestial gathering, but will appear lowest on the horizon, which could make it difficult to spot. That will change over the month, according to NASA.

“Then next week the moon is going to get into the action,” Tucker said.

“On the 25th, the moon will be like the fifth celestial wheel.”

Although this month’s skywatching event makes the planets appear to form a neat line in space, it’s actually just a matter of perspective.

Every planet in the solar system orbits the sun on the same flat plane, which means that when they occasionally cross in their orbits, they appear to form a straight line in Earth’s sky.

This orderly positioning, however, would be very different from any other vantage point in space.

The planets will be visible in the pre-dawn sky all month, and April’s alignment will set the stage for an even more spectacular skywatching event this winter.

From late June to early July, five planets – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn – will be visible in the sky before sunrise in a major alignment that only happens every few years.

NASA will send human DNA code into space

NASA scientists have developed a new message that they intend to broadcast into space, with the aim of reaching extraterrestrial life.

Tucker says it’s like they’re sending “a little instruction code.”

“It’s like NASA’s version of an IKEA space message: this is how you build our DNA and our genome, this is the direction to our planet or our solar system, this is what makes us up.”

But we don’t expect an answer anytime soon.

“It’s more of a sign that if there are civilizations in the future, and they’re wondering if they’re the only ones, they can at least say, ‘Hey, there was something and that’s where ‘they were and this is what they looked like.’

-With NBC

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