Disclosure statement

Michael J. I. Brown has received funding for his astrophysics research study from the Australian study Council.

You are watching: What does it mean when the planets align



Monash university provides funding as a starting partner the The Conversation AU.

View every partners


Four planets – Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and also Venus – will certainly be aligned at dawn tomorrow. What does this mean? have to we be to run for the hills?

You’d be forgiven for thinking so. A find on Google or YouTube because that “planetary alignment” expose myriad “information”: NASA reports, newspaper articles, astrologers, astronomers, conspiracy theories, survive guides and also a few hoaxes.

The catastrophe film 2012 turns up substantial often.

In this case, rational reasoning isn’t aided by the truth the alignment coincides with (gulp) Friday the 13th.

So, hysteria aside, what’s actually happening out there?

Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter will be grouped with each other in the predawn sky, and also will be clearly shows from nearly anywhere on Earth.

So how close will the planets show up to it is in to every other?

Mercury, Venus and also Jupiter will show up to be in ~ two levels of every other, v Mars six degrees from that is planetary compatriots. Because that comparison, the sun and also moon are half a level in size, so this alignment is stormy at best.

The combined mass of this planets is an ext than 300 times the of Earth and also some case the combined force that the planets exerts one extraordinary pull on Earth and also everything on it.

However, each of the planets is a large distance away from us, a street that’s measured in 10s or hundreds of millions the kilometres.

This dilutes your gravitational pull to a negligible amount. The Moon exerts a far greater pressure on planet than this planets, as checked out by the ebb and flow of the tides.

It’s worth remembering that alignment of 2 planets occurs several times a year, and while alignments of three or much more planets room not common, they aren’t exceptional.

(It’s precious noting the a similar planetary alignment actually arisen in 2000 there is no dire consequences, and millions of similar alignments have emerged over the 4.5 exchange rate year history of Earth).

To the unaided eye, the to adjust planets will look just like four stars, just above the eastern horizon.

The alignment doesn’t carry the planets any closer to Earth, so a telescope will be needed to see them in detail. A small telescope have to reveal the crescent that Venus and also the moons the Jupiter, uncovered by Galileo with the many primitive of telescopes century ago.

So tomorrow, and for the following month, early risers will see the alignment in the pre-dawn east sky.

While not as spectacular together movie CGI, or as funny together the jittery ramblings the unhinged cranks top top the internet, every of these points of light is a genuine world.

See more: What Are Stacks Of Thylakoids In Chloroplasts Called ? Chloroplasts

Seeing the alignment is worth acquiring out the bed because that (but don’t lose any sleep end it).