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Posted at 10:53 PM ET, 05/10/2011

Planets to cluster at pre-sunrise horizon

With information from the Capital Weather Gang

Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Mars are expected to cluster together Wednesday morning to create a beautiful pre-sunrise sky.

What makes the view different, according to NASA, is that the four planets will be spaced within 10 degrees of each other — science speak for “really close together.”

Just look toward the eastern horizon about 30 minutes before sunrise — optimal viewing time is 5:30 a.m. in the Washington area — to see the planets shining brightly. Venus and Jupiter should be especially luminous.

As these user-submitted photos show, the night sky over Washington on a regular night is nothing to sneer at. Still, the D.C. area is no stranger to being a prime viewing spot during cool astro events, like December’s lunar eclipse-winter solstice combo.

The planets will continue to dance around in different configurations through the end of May, but they’ll be closest together on Wednesday. The forecast for Washington, D.C. calls for partly cloudy skies which *fingers crossed* should allow for adequate viewing.

So set your alarms — and coffee makers — and get your cameras ready. (Upload your photos of Wednesday’s early morning sky here.)

And while you’re at it, you may as well check your horoscope. If this story taught us anything, it’s that there’s no telling what kind of havoc the positioning of the planets can wreak.

Jason Samenow of the Capital Weather Gang contributed to this post.

By  |  10:53 PM ET, 05/10/2011

 
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