The Reading / Listening - Planets - Level 6

Five major planets in our solar system lined up in a row over the weekend in a celestial event called a conjunction. In many parts of the world, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn could be seen with the naked eye (without the need for a telescope). The rare planetary conjunction was visible in clear skies before dawn. The AccuWeather website said the best time to view this event was about an hour before sunrise. Astronomer Professor Lucie Green described the event as being, "like a string of pearls spread out from close to the horizon". Professor Green was particularly happy at seeing Mercury, which is usually hard to spot. She said: "It is very satisfying [to] see this faint twinkling planet."

AccuWeather said a conjunction in this order would not be visible from Earth again for another 20 years. The next time it will happen will be August 2040. It said this planetary event was special because the planets appeared in the order they are positioned from the sun, with Saturn being the farthest away and Mercury the nearest. Another astronomer, Dr Diana Hannikainen, said the conjunction was noteworthy on Friday morning as a crescent moon accompanied the five planets. She said the alignment was 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.

Try the same news story at these easier levels:

    Planets - Level 4  or  Planets - Level 5

Sources
  • https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-61910977
  • https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2022/06/17/5-planets-align-morning-sky/7660250001/
  • https://www.cbsnews.com/news/planets-align-2022-five-mercury-venus-mars-jupiter-saturn-2022-06-24/


Make sure you try all of the online activities for this reading and listening - There are dictations, multiple choice activities, drag and drop activities, sentence jumbles, which word activities, text reconstructions, spelling, gap fills and a whole lot more. Please enjoy :-)

Warm-ups

1. PLANETS: Students walk around the class and talk to other students about planets. Change partners often and share your findings.
2. CHAT: In pairs / groups, talk about these topics or words from the article. What will the article say about them? What can you say about these words and your life?
       planets / solar system / weekend / celestial event / Mars / dawn / pearls / twinkling /
       conjunction / order / Earth / astronomer / moon / sun / delightful / orbit / Saturn
Have a chat about the topics you liked. Change topics and partners frequently.
3. SCHOOL SUBJECT: Students A strongly believe astronomy should be a school subject for all students; Students B strongly believe otherwise. Change partners again and talk about your conversations.
4. FIVE PLANETS: What do you know about these planets? What do you want to know about them? Complete this table with your partner(s). Change partners often and share what you wrote.

 

What I Know

What I Want to Know

Mercury

 

 

Venus

 

 

Mars

 

 

Jupiter

 

 

Saturn

 

 

Uranus

 

 

MY e-BOOK
ESL resource book with copiable worksheets and handouts - 1,000 Ideas and Activities for Language Teachers / English teachers
See a sample

5. SOLAR: Spend one minute writing down all of the different words you associate with the word "solar". Share your words with your partner(s) and talk about them. Together, put the words into different categories.
6. SPACE: Rank these with your partner. Put the most interesting things at the top. Change partners often and share your rankings.

  • Solar systems
  • Asteroids
  • Black holes
  • Comets
  • Shooting stars
  • The moon
  • The sun
  • Galaxies far, far away

 

Vocabulary

    Paragraph 1

      1. celestial a. Vision without the help from a telescope, microscope, or other device.
      2. conjunction b. Of a sight, smell, or sound that is barely noticeable.
      3. the naked eye c. Positioned in or relating to the sky, or outer space.
      4. dawn d. The action or an instance of two or more events or things happening at the same point in time or space.
      5. horizon e. The first appearance of light in the sky before sunrise.
      6. faint f. The line at which the earth's surface and the sky appear to meet.
      7. twinkling g. Shining with a gleam that keeps quickly changing from bright to not bright.

    Paragraph 2

      8. astronomer h. Arrangement of things in a straight line or in correct positions.
      9. noteworthy i. An expert in or student of the science of the planets and space.
      10. crescent j. Was present or happened at the same time as something else.
      11. accompanied k. Charming.
      12. alignment l. Worth paying attention to; interesting or significant.
      13. delightful m. One complete circuit of a planet or spacecraft around the earth or sun.
      14. orbit n. A curved shape, like a quarter moon.

 

Before reading / listening

1. TRUE / FALSE: Read the headline. Guess if 1-8 below are true (T) or false (F).

  1. The planets that were in line were small, unimportant ones.     T / F
  2. People needed a telescope or binoculars to thee the planets.     T / F
  3. The best time to see the line of planets was early in the morning.     T / F
  4. An astronomer said she was happy she could see the planet Mercury.     T / F
  5. There will not be another conjunction for another 200 years.     T / F
  6. Saturn is the planet that was farthest away.     T / F
  7. A full moon joined the alignment of five planets.     T / F
  8. It takes Mercury 29 years to orbit the sun.     T / F

2. SYNONYM MATCH: Match the following synonyms from the article.

  1. major
  2. celestial
  3. naked
  4. dawn
  5. faint
  6. positioned
  7. noteworthy
  8. accompanied
  9. delightful
  10. orbit
  1. coincided with
  2. daybreak
  3. impressive
  4. planetary
  5. charming
  6. rotation
  7. arranged
  8. important
  9. unclear
  10. bare

3. PHRASE MATCH: (Sometimes more than one choice is possible.)

  1. Five major planets in our solar
  2. a celestial event
  3. seen with the naked
  4. about an hour
  5. satisfying to see this faint
  6. It said this planetary
  7. in the order they are positioned
  8. crescent
  9. She said the alignment was
  10. Mercury takes 88 days to
  1. a delightful sight
  2. before sunrise
  3. twinkling planet
  4. from the sun
  5. called a conjunction
  6. orbit the sun
  7. eye
  8. event was special
  9. moon
  10. system

Gap fill

Put these words into the spaces in the paragraph below.
naked
twinkling
dawn
hard
lined
being
horizon
view

Five major planets in our solar system (1) _____________________ up in a row over the weekend in a celestial event called a conjunction. In many parts of the world, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn could be seen with the (2) _____________________ eye (without the need for a telescope). The rare planetary conjunction was visible in clear skies before (3) _____________________. The AccuWeather website said the best time to (4) _____________________ this event was about an hour before sunrise. Astronomer Professor Lucie Green described the event as (5) _____________________, "like a string of pearls spread out from close to the (6) _____________________". Professor Green was particularly happy at seeing Mercury, which is usually (7) _____________________ to spot. She said: "It is very satisfying [to] see this faint (8) _____________________ planet."

Put these words into the spaces in the paragraph below.
astronomer
order
crescent
positioned
orbit
planetary
delightful
noteworthy

AccuWeather said a conjunction in this (9) _____________________ would not be visible from Earth again for another 20 years. The next time it will happen will be August 2040. It said this (10) _____________________ event was special because the planets appeared in the order they are (11) _____________________ from the sun, with Saturn being the farthest away and Mercury the nearest. Another (12) _____________________, Dr Diana Hannikainen, said the conjunction was (13) _____________________ on Friday morning as a (14) _____________________ moon accompanied the five planets. She said the alignment was a "(15) _____________________ sight". The conjunction is rare because the five planets all have different orbits of the sun. Mercury takes 88 days to (16) _____________________ the sun, while Saturn takes 29 years.

Listening — Guess the answers. Listen to check.

1)  lined up in a row over the weekend in ______
     a.  a cerebral event
     b.  a celestial event
     c.  a celeriac event
     d.  a clerical event
2)  The rare planetary conjunction was visible in clear ______
     a.  skis before dawn
     b.  Skypes before dawn
     c.  skews before dawn
     d.  skies before dawn
3)  like a string of pearls spread out from close ______
     a.  to the horizons
     b.  to the hooray zone
     c.  to the horizon
     d.  to the hooray zones
4)  Professor Green was particularly happy at seeing Mercury, which is usually ______
     a.  hard to spot
     b.  hard to swat
     c.  hard to slot
     d.  hard to shot
5)  She said: "It is very satisfying [to] see this ______
     a.  faint twinkling planet
     b.  feint twinkling planet
     c.  feigned twinkling planet
     d.  infant twinkling planet

6)  AccuWeather said a conjunction in this order would not be ______
     a.  visible by Earth
     b.  visible from Earth
     c.  visible as Earth
     d.  visible at Earth
7)  The next time it will happen will be August 2040. It said this ______ special
     a.  planetarium event was
     b.  plant-eating event was
     c.  planet tree event was
     d.  planetary event was
8)  Another astronomer, Dr Diana Hannikainen, said the ______
     a.  connection was noteworthy
     b.  conjunction was noteworthy
     c.  conviction was noteworthy
     d.  injunction was noteworthy
9)  a crescent moon accompanied the five planets. She said the alignment was ______
     a.  a deli thoughtful site
     b.  a dill light full sight
     c.  a delightful site
     d.  a delightful sight
10)  The conjunction is rare because the five planets all have different ______ sun
     a.  orb bits of the
     b.  or bits of the
     c.  orbits of the
     d.  awe bit soft the

Listening — Listen and fill in the gaps

Five major planets in our (1) ____________________ up in a row over the weekend in a celestial event called a conjunction. In many parts of the world, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn could be seen with (2) ____________________ (without the need for a telescope). The rare planetary conjunction was visible in clear (3) ____________________. The AccuWeather website said the best time to view this event was about an (4) ____________________. Astronomer Professor Lucie Green described the event as being, "like a string of pearls spread out from close (5) ____________________ ". Professor Green was particularly happy at seeing Mercury, which is usually hard to spot. She said: "It is very satisfying [to] see (6) ____________________ planet."

AccuWeather said a conjunction (7) ____________________ would not be visible from Earth again for another 20 years. The next time it will happen will be August 2040. It said this (8) ____________________ special because the planets appeared in the order they are positioned from the sun, with Saturn being (9) ____________________ and Mercury the nearest. Another astronomer, Dr Diana Hannikainen, said the conjunction was noteworthy on Friday morning as (10) ____________________ accompanied the five planets. She said the alignment was (11) ____________________. The conjunction is rare because the five planets all have different orbits of the sun. Mercury takes 88 (12) ____________________ the sun, while Saturn takes 29 years.

Comprehension questions

  1. What kind of event does the article call the conjunction?
  2. What does the article say the conjunction could be seen with?
  3. When was the best time to see the conjunction?
  4. What did an astronomer say the conjunction was close to?
  5. What planet did the astronomer say was faint and twinkling?
  6. When will the next conjunction be?
  7. Which of the planets was the farthest away in the line?
  8. What was the conjunction joined by on Friday morning?
  9. What planet takes 88 days to orbit the sun?
  10. How long does it take Saturn to orbit the sun?

Multiple choice quiz

1) What kind of event does the article call the conjunction?
a) a once-in-a-lifetime event
b) an amazing event
c) a celestial event
d) a heavenly event
2) What does the article say the conjunction could be seen with?
a) the naked eye
b) a friend
c) a telescope
d) a conjunction viewer
3) When was the best time to see the conjunction?
a) December
b) before dawn
c) midnight
d) 3:43pm
4) What did an astronomer say the conjunction was close to?
a) infinity and beyond
b) the International Space Station
c) collapse
d) the horizon
5) What planet did the astronomer say was faint and twinkling?
a) Saturn
b) Mars
c) Mercury
d) Neptune

6) When will the next conjunction be?
a) August, 3040
b) August, 2040
c) August, 4040
d) August, 8040
7) Which of the planets was the farthest away in the line?
a) Venus
b) Mars
c) Mercury
d) Saturn
8) What was the conjunction joined by on Friday morning?
a) the International Space Station
b) a crescent moon
c) astronauts
d) the Northern Lights
9) What planet takes 88 days to orbit the sun?
a) Saturn
b) Mercury
c) Venus
d) Mars

10) How long does it take Saturn to orbit the sun?
a) 29 years
b) 88 days
c) 2 years
d) 365 days

Role play

Role  A – Asteroids
You think asteroids are the most interesting things about space. Tell the others three reasons why. Tell them what is wrong with their things. Also, tell the others which is the least interesting of these (and why): black holes, planets or comets.

Role  B – Black Holes
You think black holes are the most interesting things about space. Tell the others three reasons why. Tell them what is wrong with their things. Also, tell the others which is the least interesting of these (and why): asteroids, planets or comets.

Role  C – Planets
You think planets are the most interesting things about space. Tell the others three reasons why. Tell them what is wrong with their things. Also, tell the others which is the least interesting of these (and why): black holes, asteroids or comets.

Role  D – Comets
You think comets are the most interesting things about space. Tell the others three reasons why. Tell them what is wrong with their things. Also, tell the others which is the least interesting of these (and why): black holes, planets or asteroids.

After reading / listening

1. WORD SEARCH: Look in your dictionary / computer to find collocates, other meanings, information, synonyms … for the words...

'planet'

  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • and 'pearl'.

  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • • Share your findings with your partners.

    • Make questions using the words you found.

    • Ask your partner / group your questions.

    2. ARTICLE QUESTIONS: Look back at the article and write down some questions you would like to ask the class about the text.

    •Share your questions with other classmates / groups. •Ask your partner / group your questions.

    3. GAP FILL: In pairs / groups, compare your answers to this exercise. Check your answers. Talk about the words from the activity. Were they new, interesting, worth learning…?

    4. VOCABULARY: Circle any words you do not understand. In groups, pool unknown words and use dictionaries to find their meanings.

    5. TEST EACH OTHER: Look at the words below. With your partner, try to recall how they were used in the text:

    • major
    • parts
    • clear
    • hour
    • close
    • faint
    • again
    • 2040
    • farthest
    • moon
    • different
    • 88

    Student survey

    Write five GOOD questions about this topic in the table. Do this in pairs. Each student must write the questions on his / her own paper. When you have finished, interview other students. Write down their answers.

    (Please look at page 12 of the PDF to see a photocopiable example of this activity.)

    Discussion - Planets

    STUDENT A’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student B)

    1. What did you think when you read the headline?
    2. What images are in your mind when you hear the word 'planet'?
    3. What do you know about our solar system?
    4. What's your favourite planet?
    5. How interested are you in celestial events?
    6. What do you know about Saturn?
    7. Do you prefer dawn or dusk?
    8. What do you think of looking at the horizon?
    9. How do you feel when you see stars in the sky?
    10. Would you like to see Earth from space?

    STUDENT B’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student A)

    1. Did you like reading this article? Why/not?
    2. What do you think of when you hear the word 'pearl'?
    3. What do you think about what you read?
    4. What do you know about the sun?
    5. Should humans try to get to planets like Saturn?
    6. What's your favourite phase of the moon?
    7. When was the last time you saw a delightful sight?
    8. How big is the universe?
    9. What are the benefits of studying astronomy?
    10. What questions would you like to ask the astronomers?

    Discussion — Write your own questions

    STUDENT A’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student B)

    (a) ________________

    (b) ________________

    (c) ________________

    (d) ________________

    (e) ________________

    STUDENT B’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student A)

    (f) ________________

    (g) ________________

    (h) ________________

    (i) ________________

    (j) ________________

    Language — Cloze (Gap-fill)

    Five major planets in our solar system (1) ____ up in a row over the weekend in a celestial event called a conjunction. In many parts of the world, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn could be seen with the (2) ____ eye (without the need for a telescope). The rare planetary conjunction was (3) ____ in clear skies before dawn. The AccuWeather website said the best time to view this event was about an hour (4) ____ sunrise. Astronomer Professor Lucie Green described the event as being, "like a string of pearls spread out from close to the (5) ____". Professor Green was particularly happy at seeing Mercury, which is usually hard to (6) ____. She said: "It is very satisfying [to] see this faint twinkling planet."

    AccuWeather said a conjunction (7) ____ this order would not be visible from Earth again for another 20 years. The next time it will happen will be August 2040. It said this (8) ____ event was special because the planets appeared in the order they are positioned from the sun, with Saturn being the farthest away and Mercury the nearest. Another (9) ____, Dr Diana Hannikainen, said the conjunction was (10) ____ on Friday morning as a crescent moon accompanied the five planets. She said the (11) ____ was a "delightful sight". The conjunction is rare because the five planets all have different orbits (12) ____ the sun. Mercury takes 88 days to orbit the sun, while Saturn takes 29 years.

    Which of these words go in the above text?

    1. (a)     mined     (b)     pined     (c)     lined     (d)     dined    
    2. (a)     naked     (b)     shirtless     (c)     nude     (d)     bare    
    3. (a)     visible     (b)     vision     (c)     visor     (d)     visibly    
    4. (a)     before     (b)     afore     (c)     fore     (d)     therefore    
    5. (a)     vertical     (b)     horizon     (c)     parallel     (d)     diagonal    
    6. (a)     speck     (b)     pimple     (c)     acne     (d)     spot    
    7. (a)     at     (b)     by     (c)     in     (d)     as    
    8. (a)     planetarium     (b)     planets     (c)     planed     (d)     planetary    
    9. (a)     astronomer     (b)     astrologer     (c)     astronaut     (d)     asteroid    
    10. (a)     noted     (b)     noteworthy     (c)     notarial     (d)     notching    
    11. (a)     confinement     (b)     alignment     (c)     refinement     (d)     complement    
    12. (a)     over     (b)     under     (c)     of     (d)     above

    Spelling

    Paragraph 1

    1. in a eectslial event
    2. without the need for a ltcseoepe
    3. The rare ojucnctnoin was visible
    4. sraonomter Professor Lucie Green
    5. spread out from close to the irozhon
    6. see this faint wiktilnng planet

    Paragraph 2

    1. this lnpteaary event
    2. in the order they are oipoitnsed
    3. creuMry the nearest
    4. a rscecent moon
    5. ccmanapioed the five planets
    6. the lgamnient was a "delightful sight"

    Put the text back together

    (...)  before sunrise. Astronomer Professor Lucie Green described the event as being, "like
    1  ) Five major planets in our solar system lined up in a row over the weekend in a celestial event
    (...)  AccuWeather said a conjunction in this order would not be visible from Earth again for
    (...)  called a conjunction.  In many parts of the world, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn could be
    (...)  a string of pearls spread out from close to the horizon". Professor Green was particularly happy at
    (...)  seen with the naked eye (without the need for a telescope). The rare planetary conjunction was visible in clear
    (...)  skies before dawn. The AccuWeather website said the best time to view this event was about an hour
    (...)  nearest. Another astronomer, Dr Diana Hannikainen, said the conjunction was noteworthy on Friday morning as a crescent
    (...)  appeared in the order they are positioned from the sun, with Saturn being the farthest away and Mercury the
    (...)  another 20 years. The next time it will happen will be August 2040. It said this planetary event was special because the planets
    (...)  moon accompanied the five planets. She said the alignment was a "delightful
    (...)  seeing Mercury, which is usually hard to spot. She said: "It is very satisfying [to] see this faint twinkling planet."
    (...)  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.

    Put the words in the right order

    1. our   in   system   planets   up   .   Major   lined   solar
    2. the   be   with   Saturn   could   seen   naked   eye   .
    3. planetary   The   in   skies   .   clear   visible   was   conjunction
    4. was   Professor   Mercury   .   particularly   seeing   at   happy   Green
    5. It's   to   faint   satisfying   twinkling   this   planet   .   see
    6. years   .   for   another   Not   from   20   Earth   visible
    7. from   order   sun   .   The   the   positioned   they   are
    8. said   alignment   She   a   the   delightful   sight   .   was
    9. orbits   of   the   have   different   all   Planets   sun   .
    10. days   88   Mercury   to   takes   the   orbit   sun   .

    Circle the correct word (20 pairs)

    Five major / majority planets in our solar system lined up in / on a row over the weekend in a celestial / cerebral event called a conjunction.  In many parts of the world, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn could be seeing / seen with the naked eye (without the need / neediness for a telescope). The rare planetary preposition / conjunction was visible in clear skies before dawn. The AccuWeather website said the best time to view this event was about an hour before sunrise / sunset. Astronomer Professor Lucie Green described the event as being, "like a string of pearls spread out from close to the horizon / horizontal". Professor Green was particularly happy at seeing Mercury, which is usually hardly / hard to spot. She said: "It is very satisfying [to] see this faint / feint twinkling planet."

    AccuWeather said a conjunction in this disorder / order would not be visible from Earth again for another / further 20 years. The next time / dimension it will happen will be August 2040. It said this plantation / planetary event was special because the planets appeared in an / the order they are positioned from the sun, with Saturn being the / a farthest away and Mercury the nearest. Another astronomer, Dr Diana Hannikainen, said the conjunction was noteworthy on Friday morning has / as a crescent moon accompanied the five planets. She said the alignment was a "delightful sight / site". The conjunction is rare / rarified because the five planets all have different orbits of / at the sun. Mercury takes 88 days to orbit the sun, while Saturn takes 29 years.

    Talk about the connection between each pair of words in italics, and why the correct word is correct.

    Insert the vowels (a, e, i, o, u)

    F_v_  m_j_r  pl_n_ts  _n  __r  s_l_r  syst_m  l_n_d  _p  _n  _  r_w  _v_r  th_  w__k_nd  _n  _  c_l_st__l  _v_nt  c_ll_d  _  c_nj_nct__n.    _n  m_ny  p_rts  _f  th_  w_rld,  M_rc_ry,  V_n_s,  M_rs,  J_p_t_r  _nd  S_t_rn  c__ld  b_  s__n  w_th  th_  n_k_d  _y_  (w_th__t  th_  n__d  f_r  _  t_l_sc_p_).  Th_  r_r_  pl_n_t_ry  c_nj_nct__n  w_s  v_s_bl_  _n  cl__r  sk__s  b_f_r_  d_wn.  Th_  _cc_W__th_r  w_bs_t_  s__d  th_  b_st  t_m_  t_  v__w  th_s  _v_nt  w_s  _b__t  _n  h__r  b_f_r_  s_nr_s_.  _str_n_m_r  Pr_f_ss_r  L_c__  Gr__n  d_scr_b_d  th_  _v_nt  _s  b__ng,  "l_k_  _  str_ng  _f  p__rls  spr__d  __t  fr_m  cl_s_  t_  th_  h_r_z_n".  Pr_f_ss_r  Gr__n  w_s  p_rt_c_l_rly  h_ppy  _t  s___ng  M_rc_ry,  wh_ch  _s  _s__lly  h_rd  t_  sp_t.  Sh_  s__d:  "_t  _s  v_ry  s_t_sfy_ng  [t_]  s__  th_s  f__nt  tw_nkl_ng  pl_n_t."

    _cc_W__th_r  s__d  _  c_nj_nct__n  _n  th_s  _rd_r  w__ld  n_t  b_  v_s_bl_  fr_m  __rth  _g__n  f_r  _n_th_r  20  y__rs.  Th_  n_xt  t_m_  _t  w_ll  h_pp_n  w_ll  b_  __g_st  2040.  _t  s__d  th_s  pl_n_t_ry  _v_nt  w_s  sp_c__l  b_c__s_  th_  pl_n_ts  _pp__r_d  _n  th_  _rd_r  th_y  _r_  p_s_t__n_d  fr_m  th_  s_n,  w_th  S_t_rn  b__ng  th_  f_rth_st  _w_y  _nd  M_rc_ry  th_  n__r_st.  _n_th_r  _str_n_m_r,  Dr  D__n_  H_nn_k__n_n,  s__d  th_  c_nj_nct__n  w_s  n_t_w_rthy  _n  Fr_d_y  m_rn_ng  _s  _  cr_sc_nt  m__n  _cc_mp_n__d  th_  f_v_  pl_n_ts.  Sh_  s__d  th_  _l_gnm_nt  w_s  _  "d_l_ghtf_l  s_ght".  Th_  c_nj_nct__n  _s  r_r_  b_c__s_  th_  f_v_  pl_n_ts  _ll  h_v_  d_ff_r_nt  _rb_ts  _f  th_  s_n.  M_rc_ry  t_k_s  88  d_ys  t_  _rb_t  th_  s_n,  wh_l_  S_t_rn  t_k_s  29  y__rs.

    Punctuate the text and add capitals

    five major planets in our solar system lined up in a row over the weekend in a celestial event called a conjunction  in many parts of the world mercury venus mars jupiter and saturn could be seen with the naked eye without the need for a telescope the rare planetary conjunction was visible in clear skies before dawn the accuweather website said the best time to view this event was about an hour before sunrise astronomer professor lucie green described the event as being like a string of pearls spread out from close to the horizon professor green was particularly happy at seeing mercury which is usually hard to spot she said it is very satisfying to see this faint twinkling planet

    accuweather said a conjunction in this order would not be visible from earth again for another 20 years the next time it will happen will be august 2040 it said this planetary event was special because the planets appeared in the order they are positioned from the sun with saturn being the farthest away and mercury the nearest another astronomer dr diana hannikainen said the conjunction was noteworthy on friday morning as a crescent moon accompanied the five planets she said the alignment was 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

    Put a slash (/) where the spaces are

    Fivemajorplanetsinoursolarsystemlinedupinarowovertheweekendi
    nacelestialeventcalledaconjunction.Inmanypartsoftheworld,Mercur
    y,Venus,Mars,JupiterandSaturncouldbeseenwiththenakedeye(with
    outtheneedforatelescope).Therareplanetaryconjunctionwasvisiblei
    nclearskiesbeforedawn.TheAccuWeatherwebsitesaidthebesttimeto
    viewthiseventwasaboutanhourbeforesunrise.AstronomerProfessor
    LucieGreendescribedtheeventasbeing,"likeastringofpearlsspreadou
    tfromclosetothehorizon".ProfessorGreenwasparticularlyhappyatse
    eingMercury,whichisusuallyhardtospot.Shesaid:"Itisverysatisfying[
    to]seethisfainttwinklingplanet."AccuWeathersaidaconjunctioninthi
    sorderwouldnotbevisiblefromEarthagainforanother20years.Thenex
    ttimeitwillhappenwillbeAugust2040.Itsaidthisplanetaryeventwassp
    ecialbecausetheplanetsappearedintheordertheyarepositionedfromt
    hesun,withSaturnbeingthefarthestawayandMercurythenearest.Ano
    therastronomer,DrDianaHannikainen,saidtheconjunctionwasnotew
    orthyonFridaymorningasacrescentmoonaccompaniedthefiveplanet
    s.Shesaidthealignmentwasa"delightfulsight".Theconjunctionisrare
    becausethefiveplanetsallhavedifferentorbitsofthesun.Mercurytakes
    88daystoorbitthesun,whileSaturntakes29years.

    Free writing

    Write about planets for 10 minutes. Comment on your partner’s paper.

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    Academic writing

    Astronomy should be a school subject. Discuss.

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    Homework

    1. VOCABULARY EXTENSION: Choose several of the words from the text. Use a dictionary or Google's search field (or another search engine) to build up more associations / collocations of each word.
    2. INTERNET: Search the Internet and find out more about this news story. Share what you discover with your partner(s) in the next lesson.
    3. PLANETS: Make a poster about planets. Show your work to your classmates in the next lesson. Did you all have similar things?
    4. ASTRONOMY: Write a magazine article about astronomy being made a high school subject. Include imaginary interviews with people who are for and against this.
    Read what you wrote to your classmates in the next lesson. Write down any new words and expressions you hear from your partner(s).
    5. WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? Write a newspaper article about the next stage in this news story. Read what you wrote to your classmates in the next lesson. Give each other feedback on your articles.
    6. LETTER: Write a letter to an expert on planets. Ask him/her three questions about them. Give him/her three of your ideas on how we can get more people interested in astronomy. Read your letter to your partner(s) in your next lesson. Your partner(s) will answer your questions.

    A Few Additional Activities for Students

    Ask your students what they have read, seen or heard about this news in their own language. Students are likely to / may have have encountered this news in their L1 and therefore bring a background knowledge to the classroom.

    Get students to role play different characters from this news story.

    Ask students to keep track of this news and revisit it to discuss in your next class.

    Ask students to male predictions of how this news might develop in the next few days or weeks, and then revisit and discuss in a future class.

    Ask students to write a follow-up story to this news.

    Students role play a journalist and someone who witnessed or was a part of this news. Perhaps they could make a video of the interview.

    Ask students to keep a news journal in English and add this story to their thoughts.

    Also...

    Buy my 1,000 Ideas and Activities for Language Teachers eBook. It has hundreds of ideas, activity templates, reproducible activities for:

    • News
    • Warm ups
    • Pre-reading / Post-reading
    • Using headlines
    • Working with words
    • While-reading / While-listening
    • Moving from text to speech
    • Post-reading / Post-listening
    • Discussions
    • Using opinions
    • Plans
    • Language
    • Using lists
    • Using quotes
    • Task-based activities
    • Role plays
    • Using the central characters in the article
    • Using themes from the news
    • Homework

    Buy my book

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    Answers

    (Please look at page 26 of the PDF to see a photocopiable example of this activity.)

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