Jupiter and Mercury conjunction – see Solar System’s smallest and biggest planets together this week

STARGAZERS will be treated to a close meeting between Jupiter and Mercury this week.

The Solar System’s largest and smallest planets will reach conjunction on Friday morning.

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You’ll need to look low on the horizon to see the planets[/caption]

That means they’ll look like they’re almost touching to us Earthly observers.

This celestial event is one for early risers.

You’ll need to spot the planets just before dawn on March 5.

Look low on the eastern horizon.

NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun[/caption]

It’s best to do this with a pair of binoculars or a small telescope.

Around 45 minutes before sunrise on March 5, Mercury should be slightly above and to the left of Jupiter.

Mercury and Jupiter will be separated by just 0.3°.

Weather permitting, both planets with look like stars shining just above the horizon.

Saturn should also be visible to the right of Jupiter and a lot higher up.

Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun and it reached the outer most edge of its orbit that’s visible from Earth in January.

That made it far enough away from the Sun’s glare to been seen with the naked eye.

It’s been getting increasingly fainter since then and that’s why binoculars will come in useful if you want to be sure you spot it.

Mercury facts

Here’s what you need to know…

  • Mercury is the smallest planet
  • Mercury has been known to humanity since ancient times and it is not known who discovered it
  • It has no moons or rings
  • It is the closest planet to the Sun
  • It is the second hottest planet after Venus despite being closer to the Sun
  • Mercury has more craters than any other planet

In other space news, a huge meteor lit up the sky over the UK last night.

Nasa announced that it is accepting applications for wannabe space explorers who wish to fire their name to the Red Planet.

And, Elon Musk has warned that humanity may “self-extinguish” before we can colonise Mars.

Will you be stargazing this week? Let us know in the comments…

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