New Delhi, 3rd January 2023 – The rare alignment of all the visible planets in the evening sky is worth chasing throughout December and early January! December was a month full of fascinating astronomical phenomena that were observed with adoration by astronomers, amateurs, and laymen alike. Be it the Geminids meteor shower or the opposition of Mars, the month’s night sky didn’t fail to impress. What’s more intriguing is the rare event of visibility of all the 8 planets of our solar system in the evening sky with the naked eye during the period from 20th December to 29th December.
Such alignments occur after long durations. According to NASA, the next spectacular planet parade will happen on 8 September 2040! Therefore, the team at SPACE has taken upon this venture to make people realize and witness an astronomical rarity of our solar system.
To keep the comic spirits high and to enter 2023 with astronomical enthusiasm, the astronomers and educators at SPACE organised Planet Festival – a public night sky observation event in Delhi and brought the Moon, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars a little closer to the eyes of the general public. The purpose of this event was to not only make the city people aware of the rarity of the phenomenon but also to ignite their curiosity to look up at the sky and appreciate the celestials themselves. “Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.”
― Carl Sagan
“People fail to realize that science, in its highest form, is no different than poetry. And as Carl Sagan said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience, with the same objective SPACE India aims at empowering life by developing this sense of ethereal connectedness with the cosmos. “The planetary parade” event included the viewing of four planets – Venus, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, and the Moon on 3rd January 2023 from 5:30 PM till 10 PM, at Ramleela Ground, Sector 11 Dwarka, New Delhi. Such an astronomical event occurs rarely when one is able to see more than one planet simultaneously in almost the same region of the night sky. The objective of this event is to commemorate and celebrate the human quest for planetary exploration and the influence of science fiction, art, and literature that has inspired generations to become space explorers and rocket scientists. Hence, the aim is to emphasize the work done through generations in the field of planetary exploration that has revealed to us these far away planets as fantastic worlds and inspire people to look these worlds up close at least once in their lives! Space engaged with more than 600 people at the event and many of them were below 15 years who came with their parents to observe the beautiful planets through state of the art telescopes. This is the beauty of science that it connects people at all levels and the core reason why Space started this concept. “ Ankur Chhabra, Space Educator.
During the celebration, Venus was visible near the setting sun for a few minutes until dusk. Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars were visible till late at night and were easy to detect as they lie on an imaginary arc in the sky. Since, Uranus and Neptune were faint and hence difficult to detect from cities like Delhi. One might need to go somewhere with minimal light pollution to observe them. Various Astroport locations are established to provide aptly that.
“Those who are not yet aware should get to know that all the eight planets are visible in the sky together, and this is the rarest of the rare phenomena. People of this generation or for that matter, even the next generation are unlikely to see such a thing in the sky if one is unaware of it. Try not to miss it!” remarked Mr. Sachin Bhambha, CMD, Space.
SPACE is a pioneer organization with a legacy of 22 years in developing Astronomy, Space Science, and STEM education and experiences at the grassroots level and beyond. It is the world’s largest Non-Government Organization that is popularizing Astronomy and Space-Science across Schools, Hotels, and Tourism industries. The organization has engaged 1M+ students and has inspired 1000+ schools so far through its products and services.