30 August 2019, 12:00 UTC

Four closest to the Sun planets - Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars have conjoined together

Position of planets around the Sun in celestial sphere on 30 August 2019 Position of planets around the Sun in celestial sphere on 30 August 2019

Quite rare and very impressive sight – conjunction of all four the closest planets Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars, is currently unfolding around the Sun upon the celestial sphere. Earth in its orbital move is now positioned on one side of the Sun while Mercury, Venus, and Mars are settled on the same line, but on the opposite side which is projecting at almost the same point and extremely close to each other on the celestial plane. At the same time, thanks to this arrangement, all three planets are maximally illuminated by the Sun.

Venus had passed through the Sun-Earth line at about 2 weeks ago and now is slowly moving away whose position is now at approximately 4 degrees from the center of the solar disk. Mercury and Mars, on the contrary, are now moving towards the Sun-Earth line, moreover from the opposite sides, meaning towards each other. This ties up with the fact that Mercury is a planet with faster rotation around the Sun and overtakes the Earth, when Mars, contrariwise, falls behind. On the 2nd and the 3rd of September Mercury and Mars will almost simultaneously meet on the Sun-Earth line, forming a very beautiful configuration: wherein the center will be the Sun, Mars will be at only about one degree from the Sun and Mercury at only about a half-degree exactly above it. Venus at this time will be located in the sky in the right angle at about 5 degrees from this group. Thus, the four brightest objects of the solar system - the Sun, Venus, Mercury and Mars will conjunct together at the minimum distance from each other.

Unfortunately, you can see this conjunction with your own eyes only on satellite images or with the help of special tools. This is due to the fact that the planets are connected on the same line with the Sun and move along the celestial plane with it, respectively. Simply put, they appear in the sky during the day and now are drowning in the sunlight. The most impressive images of the conjunction are now provided by the LASCO space telescope, which operating in orbit with a field of vision (FoV) of about 8 degrees. The movement of the planets in these days can be viewed on a special page in real-time.

Laboratory of X-ray astronomy of the Sun, Lebedev Institute, Russia