1. ITV Report

Five planets align together in night sky for first time in a decade

The five planets will appear together for the first time since 2005. Credit: ITV News

Five planets are visible in the night sky for the next two weeks in a rare astronomical alignment which has not happened for more than a decade.

Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn will be visible to the naked eye together in the morning sky until around February 20, a phenomenon that has not happened since 2005.

Dr Robert Massey, of the Royal Astronomical Society, said the planets will appear in a scattered line from high in the north to low in the east.

What is happening?

  • For the first time since 2005 it will be possible to see Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn together in the night sky.

When can the planets be seen and how long will it last?

  • The five planets will be most visible in the UK between 6am and 7am in the morning until around February 20, with the best view likely to be on February 4 and 5.
  • People in the south of the UK are expected to get a better view than those in the North.
An image of Mercury taken by Nasa's Messenger spacecraft Credit: Reuters

Will I see all five planets?

  • Mercury may be difficult to spot as it will be very close to the horizon but people should be able to see Venus, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter together.

Where should I look?

  • Jupiter will be visible in the south west of the sky, while Mars will be due south.
  • Meanwhile the brightness of Venus should make it easy to spot in the south east, while the steady yellow light of Saturn will be a little higher to the right.
  • Dr Robert Massey said spotting Mercury would be the most difficult and advised people to use star charts or websites such as Stellarium to help them find it in the sky.

Where in the world will get the best view?

  • Countries such as North Australia, Zimbabwe and South Africa will enjoy the best views.
  • People in the south of the UK will get a better view than those in the North.

Tips to spot the planets in the morning sky?

  • Get up early and make sure you have a clear view to the south east or south.
  • The planets will be visible with the naked eye, though better views will be through a telescope or powerful binoculars.
  • To help people spot them they can follow the general rule that planets do not twinkle, whereas stars do.
  • Use star charts or websites such as Stellarium to get an idea of where the planets should be in the sky.