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Parade of planets in the morning sky

Parade of planets in the morning sky
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 8:08 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Did you know... around sunrise and sunset each day, the brightest stars in the sky are often times just planets in our solar system.

However, Friday morning will be a little different, featuring more of our cosmic neighbors than usual. Those who are up at or before 6am will see a parade of planets across the sky. And with those skies expected to be mainly clear, we should have a great view.

“We can see five planets bright in the morning sky,” said Heidi Kuchta, the Assistant Director of the Ritter Planetarium at the University of Toledo. “And they stretch in order: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.”

According to Kuchta, an unobstructed view to the south and east will be key to seeing the whole show.

“Mercury will be almost directly to the east, and then you’re going to start looking towards the south and there will be a bright trail of points in the sky, and those are the five planets,” Kuchta explained. “They will be, for the most part, brighter than all of the other objects in the sky.”

The planets will be out early each morning from now through early July, but they’ll be at their peak alignment on Friday morning. The other two planets in our solar system will also be hiding nearby.

“If you have a pair of binoculars, you can look in between some of the planets and see Uranus and Neptune as well, but those aren’t visible to the naked eye,” Kuchta told us.

The last time this alignment occurred was in 2004, and it won’t happen again for about another 20 years. And while we’re on the subject of rare celestial events, don’t forget that a total solar eclipse will darken the skies across much of NW Ohio on April 8th, 2024, less than 2 years from now.

“Everyone in Toledo should be prepared because it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us,” added Kuchta. “The next one won’t be until 2099. So, a long way off.”

The Ritter Planetarium will be having an event for that solar eclipse, details are pending since it’s still a ways off.

In the meantime, they do have programs each Friday at 8:30 p.m., with a telescope observing afterward if the weather allows.

Here’s the link to that program schedule: https://bit.ly/3ndktCz

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