Earth’s siblings lining up for a rare show of Planet Parade

Have you ever been asked by your science teacher to place various planets randomly around the sun while drawing a picture of solar system? Have you, as a child, wondered if the planets try to outrun each other in their race to revolve around the sun? Have you ever rushed outside to look up at the sky and catch a rare glimpse of a bright glimmering spot that’s in fact Jupiter?

This year sky-watchers were excited to find out that the Universe is set to offer multiple shows of unique celestial events in July and August.
One of these shows is known as ‘Planet Parade’, which is widely used in astronomy to explain the alignment of multiple planets in a row.

Planet parades are of different kinds and their occurrence depends on the number of planets lining up on one side of the Sun; alignment of three planets is common and can be seen twice a year, parade of four planets occurs once a year, five planets line up once in every 19 years, while such an arrangement of all planets is a more rare event that happens once in about 170 years.

2020, which will be remembered as a year of rare and unusual events, also holds a special place for such interesting astronomical events, with one such Planet Parade occurring on 4th July 2020, where all planets of the solar system will be in alignment on one side of the Sun. Such an arrangement will not be witnessed again before the year 2161.

Interestingly, a similar event happened on Feb 02, 1982, when eight out of nine planets (remember Pluto was considered a planet back then?) aligned. This year, Pluto, the poor space rock and excluded dwarf planet is joining the parade, but what makes this event special is that all eight members of the planet family are lining up. Maybe Pluto is just being courteous to bless its foster family with its presence on this remarkable day.


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