Jupiter, Saturn and Mercury set to form rare conjunction tonight: How to see the planets

Jupiter and Saturn: Great conjunction discussed by experts

For the first time since October 2015, three of the solar system’s most spectacular planets are visible together in the night sky. Mercury – the closest planet to the Sun – and Jupiter and Saturn, the two giants of the solar system, are set to appear together.

How can I see the planets?

The planets will be visible shortly after sunset, which is at 16:15 GMT today, when viewed from London.

Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn can be seen 45 minutes after the sun sets, and will appear in the west, above the horizon.

The planets will appear as if they are a triangular formation of stars virtually where the Sun has set.

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Jupiter will be the highest ‘star’ of the three, with Mercury appearing slightly southeast compared to the King of the Solar System.

Saturn will be to the southeast of the two bodies.

However, the trio will not stay together for long, with Mercury’s orbit is much shorter than Jupiter and Saturns – 88 days for Mercury compared to 12 years and 29 years respectively for the large planets.

This will be the last night Earthlings get to see the rare conjunction, with it also having been visible for the previous two nights.

Earth Sky said: “By definition, a planetary trio consists of three planets fitting within a circle whose diameter is less than 5 degrees in width.

“For reference, three fingers held together at an arm length approximates five degrees.

“Given that a typical binocular field of view spans five degrees or more, binoculars come in super handy for viewing a planetary trio.

“If you spot Jupiter with the eye alone, but not Mercury or Saturn, aim binoculars at Jupiter to see the threesome taking stage in a single binocular field!”

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However, with it being January in the UK, the weather could be a problem.

The Met Office is forecasting clouds for large swathes of the country, meaning the phenomenon could be obscured.

The national forecaster said: “Cloudy with occasional rain, heavy in places, clearing away south from Scotland, Northern Ireland and Northern England, where clearing skies will allow frost and ice. Wintry showers far north-east.”

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