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Prepare for a Celestial Spectacle as Five Planets Align

Five planets will parade across the dawn sky early Wednesday in a rare celestial spectacle set to repeat every morning until late next month.


Headlining the planetary performance are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. It will be the first time in more than a decade that the fab five will be simultaneously visible to the naked eye, according to Jason Kendall, who is on the board of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York.

这场行星表演的主角分别是水星、金星、火星、土星和木星。据纽约业余天文爱好者协会(Amateur Astronomers Association of New York)委员贾森·肯德尔(Jason Kendall)称,这将是十多年来,人们首次能用肉眼同时看到五颗行星。

Admission is free, though stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere should plan to get up about 45 minutes before sunrise to catch the show. City dwellers can stay in their neighborhoods to watch, as long as they point their attention to the east, according to Mr. Kendall.


“For Mercury you will need binoculars,” he said. “It will not jump out at you, but everybody should be able to see Venus and Jupiter.”


Mr. Kendall said that the hardest task for viewers will be discerning the planets from stars twinkling in the sky. But he offers a simple trick: close one eye, stretch out your arm and slowly pass your thumb over a bright dot in the sky. If the dot slowly dims out when your thumb passes over it, it’s a planet. If it quickly blinks out, it’s a distant star.<纽约时报中英文网 http://www.qqenglish.com/>


The show is expected to run from Jan. 20 until Feb. 20, but the peak time to see all five is from the end of January until the first week of February, when Mercury is at its highest points, according to Sky & Telescope. The display is made possible by the uncommon alignment of all five planets along what is called the “ecliptic” plane of their orbits according to Jim Green, the planetary science division director at NASA.

表演预计将从1月20日持续到2月20日,但同时看到五颗行星的最佳时间是从1月末到2月的第一周。据《天空和望远镜》(Sky & Telescope)杂志称,这期间水星处于最高点。NASA行星科学部门负责人吉姆·格林(Jim Green)称,这一现象之所以成为可能,是因为五颗行星罕见地沿其轨道的“黄道”面排列成了一条线。

Each planet will appear in the sky one by one, starting Tuesday evening with Jupiter around 9:20 p.m. in New York. Mars will follow the gas giant’s solo debut, appearing as a reddish dot at approximately 1:11 a.m. E.S.T. Wednesday. Saturn enters next around 4:00 a.m., followed by Venus — the brightest orb — nearly an hour later. Mercury will join the ensemble last, taking the stage at around 6:17 a.m. It will last until the sun rises, at about 7:15 a.m. on Wednesday in New York, and makes it too bright to see the planets. The display will appear in the sky at similar times across the East Coast and before dawn across the northern Hemisphere.<-->纽约时报中英文网 http://www.qqenglish.com<-->


“It’s not super often you get to see them all at the same time in the sky, it’s like seeing all of your friends at once,” said Jackie Faherty, an astronomer from the American Museum of Natural History. “There they are, the other rocks or balls of gas that are running around the sun.”

“同时在空中看到这五颗行星的机会不是特别常见,就像同时见到所有的朋友,”美国自然历史博物馆(American Museum of Natural History)的天文学专家杰基·法赫蒂(Jackie Faherty)说。“现在他们来了——其他那些围绕着太阳旋转的岩石或气团。”

Those who miss the planetary alignment this time around will have another opportunity from Aug. 13 to 19, when the cosmic motley crew gives an encore performance, according to EarthSky.org. That show will take place in the dusk sky, giving stargazers in the Southern Hemisphere the best vantage points.




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