Planetary parade
For the best view of the rare "planetary parade", involving five planets and the Moon, look to the western horizon just after sunset. Image Credit: Vijith Pulikkal | Gulf News

Dubai: Make sure to look up to the sky, preferably away from city lights, for a free show just after sunset on Tuesday, March 28, 2023.

That’s when you will be able to see a significant portion of our solar system.

Five planets — Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Uranus — and the moon are expected to line up in a rare celestial “parade”. While it starts March 25, the optimal view of the event will be at twilight of March 28, 2023, say astronomers.

Celestial parade

A “planetary alignment”, which describes the collection of numerous planets on one side of the sun simultaneously, is the name given to the extraordinary occurrence.

Several planets present at once are referred to informally as a "planetary parade.”

The last five-planet alignment occurred in June 2022, marking the first time in 40 years since the last celestial spectacle took place, according to Nasa.

In general, a planetary alignment is a formation that can be as little as three planets or as large as nine — all eight planets, plus Pluto on occasion.

This month will have a "large" alignment, which includes five or six planets.

According to NASA, this amazing event happens based on how long it takes each planet to make one cycle around the sun.

This explains why planetary alignments are uncommon, particularly larger-sized ones like this one, as the length of each orbit varies depending on the planet.

Where to look
○ Go outside, preferably away from city lights, and look west after sunset.

○ You could view the alignment with your naked eye — five planets and the Moon.

○ To see Mercury, Jupiter and Uranus, it may be best to grab a pair of binoculars —

○ Mercury and Jupiter will be the closest to the western horizon, according to Nasa.

○ The hardest to see with your eye may be the planet Mercury — it will be the one closest to the horizon, and right beside it will be a brighter object, planet Jupiter.

○ The next planet, Venus, will probably be the brightest planet to spot.

○ Uranus — a greenish star — can be hard to see without a telescope.

○ The moon will be halfway lit up just above Mars.

Compared to a simple planetary conjunction, alignments involving the same planets are thought to be more uncommon.

For instance, the last planetary alignment, which made Saturn, Mars, Jupiter, and Venus visible from Earth in June 2022, isn't predicted to occur again until 2040.

Nasa milky Way A 30-second exposure taken with a circular fish-eye lens
A 30-second exposure taken with a circular fish-eye lens, a meteor streaks across the sky as a photographer wipes moisture from the camera lens. The bright band of the Milky Way runs vertically through the image, and the curved horizon is punctuated by pine silhouettes.⁣ Nasa Image Credit: Nasa | Instagram

These phenomena have alarmed those who belong to the doomsday crowd. They believe exceptional events strong earthquake and floods will occur on Earth as a result of the planets' gravitational and tidal forces being amplified when they are aligned.

But fret not! Based on past patterns, NASA claims that planetary alignments are “innocuous”.

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin posted in a tweet to express his excitement for the planetary alignment.