Okay, so this proves that science is pretty much the best thing ever.
If you don’t own a telescope, find someone who does, because a can’t-miss event is happening in the sky as soon as the sun goes down today. According to NASA officials, all eight planets will be bumping into each other tonight for the first time in over 30 years.
The clonking will begin around 8 p.m. (UTC) over Peru when Neptune lightly careens off of Saturn and doinks into Jupiter. The three planets will then trade shots until Mercury zips in hard and thumps Venus and Mars in opposite directions.
If you’re in the United States, get ready to geek out even more: NASA scientists estimate that the main bonking will be best visible from anywhere in the southern half of the U.S., with a path of totality reaching as high as Canada. Other parts of the world will have limited visibility, starting from when the Earth’s moon gets smacked by Mercury up until Uranus clunks down an entire line of planets in a “falling down stairs” effect.
Even though it’s technically a dwarf planet, Pluto will be the last to make contact when it ricochets off of a rapidly spinning Saturn, then pinballs off each of the other planets several times before they all float back to their usual spots.
For those of you reading this in Australia: Sorry, folks, but you won’t quite be able to see it.
All ’80s kids will remember the last time this rare astronomical event happened, back in 1986, when Jupiter thunked Saturn so hard that Saturn’s rings briefly shot off its orbit and went around Mars. They were returned just a few moments later when the Red Planet got sandwiched by Earth and Neptune and bazooked out from the middle like a zit being squeezed, leaving the rings to plop back on Saturn. We can only hope the show tonight will be as thrilling!
We repeat: You do not want to miss this, especially because it won’t happen again until 2046. Get out there tonight!