What is a planetary parade scientifically?

(ORDO NEWS) —

You have probably heard more than once about the phenomenon called “parade of planets”. Astrologers and other charlatans are especially fond of him, telling (of course for a tidy sum) about the uniqueness of a person who was lucky enough to be born at a time when all the planets of the solar system lined up in one line. But how in general can the planets of the solar system obediently line up, like soldiers? No way.

The fact is that in astronomy – the science of the Universe, which studies the motion, structure and origin of celestial objects, there is no such thing as a “parade of planets”. What the headlines of the world media call a parade of planets, researchers call a phenomenon in which some planets of the solar system are located in a small sector on one side of the sun. Since the planets are more or less close to each other on the celestial sphere, it may seem to an observer from Earth that they are lined up in one row. In this article, we will talk about where the term “planet parade” came from, what actually happens in the night sky and what objects can be observed in 2021. Go!

Where did the term “planet parade” come from?

Despite the fact that astronomers do not like the term “parade of planets”, preferring to call this phenomenon “the convergence of planets”, it took root and even became part of mass culture. So, in episode 13 of the third season of the cult series “The X-Files”, two girls acquired paranormal abilities due to the fact that a parade of planets took place on their birthday. In reality, the stories of the appearance of the term “parade of planets” are much more prosaic.

In my article on the July 4, 2020 parade of planets, I talked about how the roots of the story of the “terrible” planetary parade go back to the US Independence Day, which is traditionally celebrated on July 4. On this day, a huge number of people take to the streets to look at the night sky and fireworks. As the scientific observer Evgeny Artyukhin writes in an article for Komsomolskaya Pravda, “unfortunately, one journalist got carried away with military-patriotic metaphors and compared the planets hanging in the sky with the soldiers on the parade. And away we go.”

There is another history of the origin of this term. In 1974, a book was published called The Jupiter Effect, written by English astrophysicists John Gribbin and Stephen Plagemann. The book described terrible cataclysms, including the catastrophic earthquake in California on March 10, 1982 – the day when a full parade of planets was expected.

The search for the emergence of the myth of the fateful parade of the planets eventually led me to the University of Alaska website, where an article was posted on the book by Gribbin and Plagemann, which quickly became a bestseller. Needless to say, what impact this work has had on readers around the world. Unfortunately, further attempts by scientists to refute what was written in the book were doomed to failure – people around the world began to associate the parade of planets with mysticism, disasters, bad omens and God knows what else.

Night sky in 2021

I’ll start with the good news – astronomers predict that there will be no planetary parade in 2021. Instead of this fictional event, promising disaster and terrible suffering, reality will give us the opportunity to see the planets of the solar system with our own eyes. According to tass.ru, the main astronomical events of 2021 will be two solar and two lunar eclipses, as well as a supermoon, during which the satellite will approach our planet at a minimum distance.

Thus, a total lunar eclipse can be observed in Southeast Asia, all of Australia, all of Oceania, most of Alaska and Canada, the 48 lower states of the United States and most of South America. Astronomers note that on May 26, the Earth will be between the Sun and the Moon, which will lead to the immersion of the lunar body in a blood-red shadow. At such moments, the Moon appears to earthlings to be about 14% larger and 30% brighter than usual.

Moreover, as its authors write in the collection of upcoming astronomical events in 2021, “the visibility of the planets in 2021 is quite favorable.” As for comets, at least four celestial wanderers will be available for small and medium-sized telescopes, the expected brightness of which will be quite bright. Of the meteor showers, the Aquarids, Perseids, Draconids and Geminids will be the best to observe. A more detailed description of the upcoming astronomical phenomena can be found here.

Other interesting events include the convergence of Venus and Jupiter on February 11th. To see this momentous event, you will have to get up early and look east about half an hour before sunrise. Jupiter will appear above and on the left, and Venus will appear slightly below on the right. A pair of planets will be barely visible above the horizon, which means that it is best to observe the event outside the city. And yet, perhaps the main event in February will be the landing of the Perseverance spacecraft on the surface of the Red Planet, which is to take place on 18 February.

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