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Old 03-17-2020, 06:53 PM
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Post Set your alarm: Moon to join trio of planets before sunrise Wednesday

Early risers will be treated to a celestial meetup on Wednesday as the moon joins a gathering of planets in the hours before sunrise.Saturn, Jupiter and Mars have been lined up in the pre-dawn sky in recent weeks, with Mars gradually drifting closer to the gas giants. These planets will bunch even closer together as the month progresses. "Mars, Jupiter and Saturn will be as close together as they will be over the next couple of decades," AccuWeather Astronomy Blogger Dave Samuhel said.The morning of Wednesday, March 18, will be of particular interest for stargazers and photographers of all ages as the crescent moon will appear incredibly close to the planets in the southeastern sky.No special equipment like a telescope is needed to see any of these objects as they are all bright enough to be seen with the naked eye."This will be seen in the predawn sky, best viewed around 5:30 a.m. [local time]," Samuhel said, but they should remain visible until around daybreak.CLICK HERE FOR THE FREE ACCUWEATHER APPEven though a telescope is not required, having one will add to the experience. Jupiter, Mars and the moon will be close enough to appear in the same field of view for some telescopes and binoculars, giving onlookers a better view of the objects.Pluto will also be in the same area of the sky, about halfway between Mars and Saturn, but a high-powered telescope is needed to spot this small, distant object. A telescope is not required to see the planet cluster, but doing so will allow stargazers to see a couple of additional celestial bodies in addition to more detail. (Photo by*Lucas Pezeta*from*Pexels) Folks with a clear view of the horizon may be able to spot one more planet in the pre-dawn sky, but it may be more challenging to find than the rest.Mercury will barely be visible in the east-southeastern sky about 45 minutes before daybreak, but it will sit low on the horizon. Objects such as trees or buildings could easily keep the planet out of your field of vision.Not only will it be hard to find because of how low it will sit on the horizon, but also because it is barely bright enough to be seen with the unaided eye. This will be one of the few opportunities this year where it will not be lost in the glare of the sun.Stargazers will have a few weeks to look for Mercury in the early morning sky, not just the morning of March 18.People that miss out on Wednesday's morning celestial gathering will still be able to see Saturn, Jupiter and Mars glow together in the early morning sky through the balance of the month and into April.On the morning of March 20, Mars and Jupiter will be extremely close with the Red Planet appearing just below the solar system's largest planet.Less than two weeks later on April 1, Mars will swing by Saturn, although the two will not appear quite as close as Mars and Jupiter.Keep checking back on**and stay tuned to the*AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.

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