In a fairly rare and interesting occurrence in space, planets Mars, Jupiter, Venus and the moon lined up in the sky to give delight to space enthusiasts and astronomers. People did not need advanced telescopes or devices to view the celestial show as the event was quite apparent to the naked eye, particularly if the watchers had a clear and unobstructed southeastern sky view.
The celestial show started on Friday, Nov. 6, with the people observing the sky under clear weather able to see bright Jupiter in the southeastern part of the sky. The huge planet was seen to the left and a little above the crescent moon. The distance between the two was approximately lesser than three degrees. For comparison, an arm held out with the fist closed is 10 degrees of the night sky.
On Saturday, Nov. 7, the three planets looked as if they clumped together in a small area in the sky. The moon then lined up with Venus, resembling a celestial "night-light," and Mars appeared much dimmer.
Come morning time, the moon illuminated to the right side of Venus at less than two degrees. Meanwhile, Mars shone above Venus and the moon; however, the red planet's illuminating rate is said to be about on 1/250 of Venus' intensity.
The moon and the planets are usually involved in different conjunctions and arrangements throughout the year. However, it is not typical for three planets and the moon to align with each other and be situated in the same small region in the sky.
Some of the planets' movements around the sun, including that of Mercury, Mars, Venus, Saturn and Jupiter may be observed by people on Earth via the naked eye. Each of these planets exude a different speed along its respective tracks as it traverses through the starry space. With this, the placement of the planets is unique at any specific time.
The planets that can be seen from Earth, without the help of space-viewing devices, orbit in an imaginary path called ecliptic. The ecliptic, which the moon also follows, is also used by the sun, given Earth's revolution around it.
The ecliptic is also said to be the continuation of the plane of the Earth's orbit out of the sky. However, because the planets and moon move in orbits that are not highly different from that of Earth's, these celestial bodies constantly remain close to the ecliptic line when it is visible in the sky.
In the past, men recognized that the planets, which resemble bright stars, had the independence to cruise in the heavens, while others stay in place. The ability to wander appeared magical and godly to the ancient man as evidenced by the names of the ancient gods and goddesses.
In a new study published in The Astrophysical Journal, scientists suggested that a fifth giant planet was kicked by either Jupiter or Saturn out of the solar system. The study was said to respond to assumptions that the makeup of the solar system is not quite right.
"Our evidence points to Jupiter," said lead author Ryan Cloutier, a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto.
The findings of the study were said to be important, not just to feed curiosity, but also to widen the knowledge of experts regarding the unique evolution of the solar system.