May 20

Triple Planetary Alignment - 2013 May 20

On 2013 May 20 (MST), the planets Jupiter, Venus and Mercury were all visible to the naked eye during evening twilight (about 40 minutes after sunset). This was the first time I was able to easily pick out Mercury from the bright glow of twilight during its upcoming eastern apparition. It also marks the beginning of a several-week-long triple planetary alignment as all three bright planets appear together in the evening sky. The planets will move closer together each night culminating in a conspicuous triangle on the evening of May 26.

In the image above, Jupiter appears in the upper left while Venus is slightly right of center in the bottom half. Mercury is to the lower right corner just above the horizon defined by the distant Chirichaua Mountains. The figure to the right can also be used to identify the planets.

Complete details on this celestial event can be found on the Portal to the Universe blog post Triple Planetary Alignment. To preview how the event will change from night-to-night, see the Triple Planetary Alignment Viewing Charts.

For photos of this event, see Triple Planetary Alignment Gallery.

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