When Scorch, Verum, and Felix returned to the dorm room after dinner, they found Orak in a mess. He was surrounded by his huge collection of telescopes, binoculars, and the cleaning kit!
“Orak, are you cleaning all your telescopes? But why?” Felix said.
“Haven’t you heard? Planets have started lining up together in the sky. I need to keep my telescopes ready!” Orak said.
“Planets lining up? What are you talking about?” Verum felt confused.
“From now till early July, the nearest planets to Earth – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, will line up. They will be visible in a line across the pre-dawn sky,” Orak said.
“Wow, that’s so rare!” Scorch said.
“Yes, Scorch,” Orak said, “It is the perfect time to look at the planets and stargaze.”
Orak explained the phenomenon, “It all started in late March. Venus, Mars, and Saturn began to cluster in the southeast direction. On April 17th, Jupiter moved into a position towards the east. It was almost on the top of Venus. Mars and Saturn also moved into their positions.
On April 23rd, the Moon also joined the planets. It appeared above Saturn. It moved off on April 29th.
Now, in mid-June, Mercury will join the planets. Then we will be able to see all five planets together!”
“Oh, and a crescent moon is due on June 17. It will make Mercury easier to find. We will just have to look below and to the right of the Moon,” Orak added.
“It will be such a beautiful view!” Felix said.
“When’s the ideal time to look at the line-up of planets?” Verum said.
“People living in open areas or in far-off villages where they can clearly see the eastern horizon will be able to spot the planets starting June 10th. But those who live in urban, hilly, or mountainous regions will have to wait till the beginning of July to see this amazing lineup. The best time to view the planets would be just an hour before the sunrise,” Orak said.
“Let’s go in the morning! After you have cleaned your telescopes, I will help you carry them,” Scorch said.
“Thank you, Scorch!” Orak smiled.
“But before we go stargazing, remember this – we have to look for constant light. Stars twinkle but planets don’t. Planets give out a constant light. It’s how we know the difference between stars and planets in the sky,” Orak said.