Look up in the sky at the right moment this weekend and you could see two of the solar system’s brightest planets almost touching.
Venus and Jupiter will be millions of miles apart, but from Earth they will appear close to colliding.
This planetary conjunction happens annually but this year they will appear much closer than usual.
The same spectacle won’t occur again like this until 2039.
Just the naked eye or binoculars should be enough to see it in a clear sky.
After Saturday, the two planets will go their separate ways as they drift apart in the coming days.
“It’s very exciting for astronomers and it’s a really great opportunity for people to get out and have a look,” explains space scientist and chief stargazer at the Society for Popular Astronomy Prof Lucie Green.
What is a planetary conjunction?
A conjunction is when two planets appear close together or even touching in the Earth’s night sky.
In the days running up to Saturday, Venus and Jupiter have been gradually coming together in the sky.
The actual orbit of the planets are about 430 million miles apart but their apparent alignment seen from Earth gives the illusion that they are touching.
How can I see it?
The peak time to see it was Saturday at around 05:00 BST. But it will still be visible on Sunday and in the coming days as the planets slowly move apart.
Pre-dawn is best, looking east before the Sun rises.
The planets will be low down in the sky, close to the horizon, and hills and buildings will block the view. If you can, find a high spot and look for two dazzlingly bright spots very close together.
“The planets will differ in their brightness. Venus is brighter than Jupiter so it will look dazzlingly bright when you see it. Jupiter will be slightly fainter, about one-sixth of the brightness of Venus,” explains Prof Green.
She suggests using an app to help navigate your way around the skies.
And if you have telescope, you might be able to make out some structure in the atmosphere of Jupiter or some of its largest moons.
The conjunction can be seen from both of Earth’s hemispheres at different times of day and night.
Those observing with a telescope may also be treated to a view of Mars and Saturn forming a line of four planets.
Prof Green says she plans to be up and out of bed to watch it from the UK.
“But if I do miss it on Saturday morning, I’m not going to be too worried,” she explains.
“In the coming days the two planets start to get further and further apart – So I will still be able to see them.”
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Researchers studied over 25,000 adults for five years to reach these findings.
Vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acid supplements are known to contribute to bone strength and heart health—but that’s not all. Research presented at the American College of Rheumatology’s ACR Convergence 2021 found that people who ingested these nutrients over the course of five years actually lowered their chances of developing autoimmune disease by 25 to 30 percent, Eating Wellreports.
To conduct this study, researchers followed 25,871 adults who were put on four different regimens for nearly five-and-a-half years: The first group took both an omega-3 and vitamin D placebo, and the second took 1,000 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids and 2,000 international units of vitamin D. A third group of participants took an omega-3 placebo and 2,000 international units of vitamin D, while the fourth group took 1,000 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids and a vitamin D placebo. If a participant experienced any autoimmune complication, it was noted by the researchers.
The result? Those with autoimmune diseases, such as psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis, lowered their risk of relapse by up to 30 percent if they took either or both supplements. “The effect of vitamin D3 appeared stronger after two years of supplementation,” Costenbader said in the study’s abstract, adding that risks can decrease in less than five years. “The more pronounced effect after two to three years of use with vitamin D makes sense biologically and supports long-term use.”
This study was inspired by a previous study in which researchers found that those who get enough vitamin D from the sun and their diets are better able to ward off arthritis and inflammation. “In past ecologic observations, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, and type 2 diabetes have been shown to be more prevalent at northern latitudes, where circulating vitamin D levels are lower,” Karen Costenbader, M.D., M.P.H., the senior author of the research and the director of the Lupus Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said at the conference. “Both high plasma vitamin D and high residential UV exposure were associated with a decreased risk for rheumatoid arthritis among women in the Nurses’ Health Study in our past work.” Their previous studies also showed that risk of developing arthritis appeared lower in those with high fatty fish intake.
The One Type of Vitamin D That Will Strengthen Your Immune System
Vitamin D helps make your bones stronger, boosts your heart health, and more. Now, a new study has found that getting specific with your supplement offers yet another health benefit.
Vitamin D is one of the most popular supplements in the United States, and for good reason too: it’s known for its ability to contribute to bone strength and heart health, as well as lower your risk for developing an autoimmune disease. But there’s a chance you’re taking the supplement every day and not reaping all of its benefits. According to a study recently published in Frontiers in Immunology, D3 is more effective at elevating vitamin D levels in the bloodstream than D2. What’s more, only D3 helps enable a critical immune system response to bacterial and viral infections.
WTo determine the key differences between both types of the supplement, the University of Surrey recruited 335 women between the ages of 20 and 64 who were based in the United Kingdom and randomly assigned them to a group. Some of the participants took 15 micrograms of vitamin D2 a day, while others took the same amount of D3. There was also a placebo group that took neither D2 or D3. The researchers examined the effects of vitamin D over a 12-week period during the winter months.
The result? Vitamin D3 was more effective at increasing vitamin D levels in the bloodstream than D2. They also found that the group who took D3 had a stronger immune system response to bacterial and viral infections, while D2 has the opposite effect. Additionally, it’s believed by researchers that D2 may deplete D3, as the D2 supplement group had less D3 in their blood than the placebo group did. “We know that to take a vitamin D2 supplement actually displaces the normal, the native D3 from your body,” Colin P. Smith, an author of the study and a professor of genomics at the University of Surrey in the U.K., told Inverse. “So by taking a vitamin D2 supplement, you could be making yourself vitamin D deficient, certainly in relation to some pathways in the body.”
This isn’t the first study that has examined the differences between D2 and D3. A study published last year in the National Library of Medicine, found that high D3 levels were associated with less severe depression symptoms in women, while D2 showed no such correlation.
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