You Can Catch Jupiter, Saturn, and Mercury Taking Over the Night Sky This Weekend
This rare triple planet conjunction will form a triangle. By Nashia Baker
Odds are that when you gaze at the night sky, you’re looking up to see the stars. But if you peer out this weekend, you’ll likely see something more unexpected: a triple conjunction of planets. According to Good News Network, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mercury will come together to form a triangle on January 10. As for the best time to spot this phenomenon? You can catch the planets arranging into the triangle shape 45 minutes after sunset as you look at the southwest horizon.
While it’s recommended to grab a pair of binoculars if you’d like to clearly see the three planets, which will be just about one-and-a-half degrees apart, you will also notice them by their brightness. Space notes that Mercury will seem two-and-a-half times dimmer than Jupiter, but the planet will be four times brighter than Saturn.
This isn’t the only planet-related news to kick off the new year. You may have noticed that your days seem to be flying by faster than usual. There’s a good reason why: The Earth is spinning faster than it has in 50 years—meaning your days are less than 24 hours. Daily Mail reported that this all started last year on July 19. Scientists recorded this as the shortest day—measured at 1.4602 milliseconds shorter than 24 hours—since they began analyzing days in the 1960s.
A Science Advances study from 2015 claims that shorter days are a result of global warming. When glaciers melt, the world shifts and begins spinning faster on its axis. Today, scientists say our days are 0.5 seconds shorter than 24 hours. The result? Researchers believe the use of leap seconds (extra seconds that allow satellites to align with the positions of the stars, moon, and the sun) is necessary. “It’s quite possible that a negative leap second will be needed if the Earth’s rotation rate increases further, but it’s too early to say if this is likely to happen,” says Peter Whibberley, senior research scientist with National Physical Laboratory’s time and frequency group.