Don’t miss the “Planet Parade” – witness six planets align in a rare spectacle

On June 3 stargazers will see a rare alignment of the six planets, best seen before sunrise from dark, high places. (Sketches of 6 planets in the sky.) Credits:

On June 3, alignment of six planets – Mercury, tuesday, Thursday, Sat, UranusAnd Neptune– Visible from dark, high vantage points with minimal light pollution, just before sunrise. This rare event requires optical aids to see all the planets.

Stargazers will have an incredible opportunity to look for six planets in Earth’s solar system on June 3. Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune appear from some of the darkest, most weatherless vantage points on Earth. In the night sky—or less straight—but seeing them all requires some optical assistance.

Given the widely varying elliptical path of each planet’s orbit around the Sun, astronomers are quick to point out. But if the local weather does not interfere – the unusual arrangement will really charm.

Best viewing times and locations

Planetary alignment is most visible 30-60 minutes before sunrise.

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

NASA Night Sky Network

Astronomers and stargazers around the world will need a high-powered telescope or binoculars to spot a “planet parade” at dawn on June 3. Credit: NASA/Night Sky Network

See notes for planetary alignment

Mars and Saturn are visible to the naked eye, and Mercury and Jupiter can be seen near the horizon. However, to include Neptune and Uranus in the sequence requires the use of binoculars or a high-powered telescope.

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“You can find it anywhere that doesn’t have a ton of light pollution,” Sterling said. “You need a clear view looking east. Jupiter and Mercury will join last, rising just above the horizon. You won’t see six bright spots in a row. In ideal conditions, you can see Jupiter, Mercury and Mars and Saturn. Others will need binoculars or binoculars.

Future prospects and rare alignments

Alignments of the six planets rarely occur, depending on the orbit and position of each planet as seen from Earth. In fact, the latter part of the year could see a great performance. The same approximate alignment of the six planets can be seen in the pre-dawn hours of August 28 and January 18, 2025.

This is more common than a full planetary alignment, in which all eight planets in our solar system appear to form roughly on the same side of the Sun. Taking all factors into account, including each planet’s orbital plane, speed, and distance, estimates suggest it takes more than 300 billion years to occur once.

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

The latest skywatching highlights

A planetary alignment is a recent celestial phenomenon. Astronauts enjoyed a total solar eclipse on April 8 and a rare sighting of the aurora borealis over parts of the continental United States in May — the result of an unusually large geomagnetic storm.

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