This spring, 4 planets are putting on a show in the pre-dawn skies. During March, they will be setting up for a very nice alignment to occur in late April.
In late March, the first movement of this performance will culminate in a trio of Mars, Venus, and Saturn, all in a very compact triangle.
In the weeks following, Saturn will keep moving up, while Jupiter will begin to peak its head above the horizon. You’ll need to be either high up on a hill, or building, or near a very open Eastern facing area to see it. But, a few weeks into April the 4 will be in a straight line, extending diagonally upward from the horizon.
And, if we were to imagine having perfect weather every day for March and April, we might see something this if we went out every day an hour before sunrise.
And, the space-bird’s eye view is always nice too. Here are the 2 months looking down on the solar system. From this perspective, we can see that in late March, Venus, Mars, and Saturn are all nearly in a line extending out from Earth.
Lastly, we wouldn’t be doing all this if you couldn’t actually see this from NYC. Here’s some proof. Taken from an undisclosed location in Hamilton Heights around 6 am on March 16th. The three planets are beginning to come together into a tight triangle. Saturn is hard to see due to the horizon lights (and of course the city lights) but it’s visible if you give your eyes some time to adjust.
About the author
Dr. Hedberg studied the ancient cosmologies of Ptolemy, Tycho, and Kepler as an undergrad at St. John’s College (Santa Fe) as part of the Program’s Mathematics tutorial, though the college didn’t have this beautiful tool when he attended there. Since then, his work in programming and science visualization sometimes takes delightful detours into the past, present and future.
I like to imagine Copernicus as he was drawing his heliocentric diagram. There's a bit of paper missing in the center of the schematic, where (possibly) he repeatedly pressed the pointed tip of his drawing compass, each time muttering "It's here dammit." Happy Bday #Copernicus 🎂 pic.twitter.com/qqz6yhJ4bJ— James Hedberg (@jameshedberg) February 19, 2022