The planets really will be in alignment for the next month

Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn will all be visible this week, in a neat line

Go buy a lottery ticket, dear readers, because for the next month the planets really will be in alignment.

By an accident of celestial mechanics, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn will all be visible from Earth for the next month and it will be just-about-possible to draw a straight line intersecting all five.

Swinburne University's Dr Alan R Duffy created the image below showing how the night sky will look from today until February 20th.

Planetary alignment, Jan-Feb 2016

Australian Geographic explains that northern hemisphere readers should cast their eyes southwards before sunrise. El Reg readers south of Equator will also need to rise early, as the planetary parade can be seen from between 5:00AM and 5:30AM. Of course once the Sun comes up it'll spoil the party, although your correspondent has occasionally been able to pick out Venus in early morning light when it appears as a wonderfully spectral white circle in the sky.

Alignments of this sort come around every so often, most recently in 2005. We'll see it again in August 2016, then again in October 2018. ®

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