On May 23rd, Stargazers will be treated to a special astronomical event when the planets Venus, Jupiter and Mercury gather to form a triangle low in the western sky after sunset.
This spectacular triple conjunctions of planets can be seen with the naked eye up to 60 minutes after sunset, with the three bright planets appearing close enough to each other to fit inside the field of view of an ordinary pair of binoculars.
Although the celestial pyramid of planets can be seen in fading twilight on May 23rd, the pattern will continue to develop into a more perfect triangle up until May 26th, when they will appear as a perfect equilateral triangle with each planet two degrees apart from one another. By May 27th, the triangle will then begin to disperse, after which Jupiter sinks below Venus, Mercury rises above it and the planets form a line with the sun on May 31st.
In ancient times, the planets were believed to be gods and such conjunctions of planets were viewed as being of great astrological importance, especially when considering their location to certain constellations. Astronomically speaking, such triple conjunctions, although fairly rare, do occur with some regularity with the last one taking place in May 2011, and the next one due in October 2015.
One thing both astronomers and astrologers do agree on, however, is that the special astronomical phenomena presents a truly beautiful site in the fading twilight sky.