Five planets line up 'like string of pearls'

Five planets in our solar system have lined up in a celestial event called a conjunction. All across the world, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn could be seen without a telescope. The rare planetary conjunction was visible in clear skies before dawn. A weather website said the best time to view it was about an hour before sunrise. An astronomer said it was, "like a string of pearls spread out from close to the horizon". She was particularly happy at seeing Mercury, which is usually hard to see. She said: "It is very satisfying [to] see this faint twinkling planet."

The next conjunction will not be visible from Earth for another 20 years. The next one will be August 2040. This month's one was special because the planets appeared in the order they are positioned from the sun. Saturn was the farthest away and Mercury was nearest. Another astronomer said the conjunction was made better on Friday morning as a crescent moon joined the five planets. She called it a "delightful sight". The conjunction is rare because the five planets all have different orbits of the sun. Mercury takes 88 days to orbit the sun, while Saturn takes 29 years.