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A Valentine’s Date Idea for Astronomy-Loving Early Birds

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/video/players/offsite/index.html?videoId=100000004204942

Those who are looking for an unusual Valentine’s Day activity may want to take advantage of the narrowing window of opportunity to see five planets align. This time-lapse video, captured on Jan. 28, gives a sense of what is possible for those who rise very early — or stay up very late.

For more than three weeks the planetary quintet has pirouetted in the morning twilight, putting forth a dazzling display across the Northern Hemisphere. The celestial spectacle is expected to be visible through Feb. 20, but it’s likely to be a better show this weekend than next.

The video began with the moon glowing center stage as bright as a spotlight. Jupiter, its closest partner, was positioned on the right while Mars was some distance to the left. As the morning progressed, the remaining planetary performers — Saturn, Venus and Mercury — filed behind the red disk. Mercury made its debut mere moments before dawn, when the sun’s gaze swallowed the entire show.

“I had the misconception that it’s impossible to see anything but the moonwhile looking up in NYC,” Mr. Norman said in an email. “I think everyone thinks this. Well, I guess you just need to know where to look!”

 

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