Don’t miss the “Planetary Parade” – watch six planets line up in a rare display

Stargazers can see a rare alignment of six planets on June 3, best viewed before sunrise from elevated, dark locations. (Illustration of six planets in the sky). Source:

On June 3, six planets align: Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, UranusAnd Neptune– It will be visible shortly before sunrise from high, dark vantage points with minimal light pollution. This rare event requires visual aids to see all the planets.

Stargazers will have an amazing opportunity to look up six planets in Earth’s solar system on June 3. Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune will emerge from some dark, weatherless spots on Earth, forming a brighter planet. — or less a straight line in the night sky — but it will take some visual aid to see them all.

The alignment is something of an illusion, astronomers are quick to point out, given the widely varying elliptical path of each planet’s orbit around the Sun. But this unusual arrangement could actually be captivating, if the local weather didn’t interfere.

Best viewing times and locations

The planetary alignment is likely to be most apparent 30-60 minutes before sunrise, when looking east from a high, dark vantage point with minimal light pollution and an unobstructed view of the full horizon.

“If you were somewhere in space other than Earth, these planets wouldn’t appear to be aligned at all,” said Dr. Alphonse Sterling, an astrophysicist at Harvard University. NASAMarshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. “It’s not unusual to see two or three lined up, but to have six of them lined up like this is not uncommon.”

NASA Night Sky Network

Astronomers and stargazers around the world should look out before dawn on June 3 for a “planetary parade,” a loose alignment of six of our neighboring worlds: Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus — although the last two planets will It requires high-powered binoculars or a telescope to observe. Credit: NASA/Night Sky Network

View tips for planetary alignment

Mars and Saturn can be identified with the naked eye, and Mercury and Jupiter can be spotted near the horizon. However, adding Neptune and Uranus to the lineup will require the use of a high-powered telescope or binoculars.

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“You can see it anywhere there’s not a lot of light pollution,” Sterling said. “You just need a clear view to the east. Jupiter and Mercury will be the last to join, rising just above the horizon. You won’t see six bright spots lined up. In the best conditions you can see Jupiter, Mercury, Mars and Saturn. You’ll need binoculars or a telescope for the others.”

Future opportunities and rare alliances

The six planetary alignments occur infrequently, depending on the orbit and position of each planet as seen from Earth. In fact, we may see another performance later this year. The same approximate alignment of the six planets can be seen in the pre-dawn hours on August 28 and again on January 18, 2025.

This is certainly more common than a perfect planetary alignment, where the eight planets in our solar system appear to be located in a rough configuration on the same side of the sun. Considering all the factors involved, including the orbital level, speed and distance of each planet, estimates suggest it would take more than 300 billion years for it to happen just once.

This is longer than the estimated lifetime of our parent star, so don’t wait.

Highlights of recent events in sky observing

The planetary alignment is the latest sky observing event in recent times. Space enthusiasts enjoyed a total solar eclipse on April 8, and a rare sighting of the northern lights in May over parts of the continental United States — the result of an unusually large geomagnetic storm.

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