Love sky shows? Well, you’re in luck, because June has one of the most phenomenal displays thanks to an ultra-rare five-planet alignment that hasn’t happened in about decades. Here’s what you need to know including — what exactly is happening, what planets you’ll see, and how you can make sure you don’t miss it.
What ultra-rare plant alignment is happening?
Five planets are set to align in the pre-dawn sky this month. And it’s not just seeing five planets at the same time that’s exciting: they’ll also be able to be seen in order of how they orbit around the sun.
On display will be Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. “Certainly, it is not unusual to see two or three bright planets at a single glance, but to have five in view simultaneously is something quite special,” Space.com reports.
Why is the planet alignment so rare?
It’s not the first time we’ve seen multiple planets in the sky, but what makes this one so rare is the configuration. Not only are the planets in the right alignment to the sun, but where we see the moon in the sky perfectly represents where Earth would fall in that order. It can be seen over two days.
“Incredibly, the last time this kind of alignment happened was March 5, 1864,” Space.com shares.
However, Diana Hannikainen, Sky & Telescope‘s Observing Editor, told NPR that we last saw a similar alignment in 2004 and it will be set to view again in 2040.
“But it’s rare enough that if we get the opportunity to step outside in the morning and check it out, it’s worth it,” Hannikainen said.
When is the 5-planet alignment happening?
The string of planets has been seen in the sky all of June, but this coming week is when we can see the specific, and ultra-rare alignment. On June 24, we will see the five planets align in order of orbit to the sun and the crescent moon will be viewable right between Venus and Mars. It should be viewable for a full hour just before the sun rises.
The moon will shift by June 25 and will move out of alignment, so you’ll want to make sure you can catch the full alignment before then. “It will be well worth setting your alarm clock for around 5 am local daylight time on June 26,” Space.com suggests.
How can we watch the 5-planet alignment?
It’s viewable from nearly everywhere! In the southern hemisphere, you can look to the east and northeastern horizon to see the planets align. For those in the northern hemisphere, you’ll want to look to the east and southeastern horizons, according to Sky & Telescope.
“The best views will be either from an elevated area above any tall buildings or trees or from a shoreline where you can look out over open water to a flat sea horizon,” Space.com suggests.
You don’t need any gear to see the planets align because they’ll be bright enough to spot with the naked eye provided you have a view above the city line. Of course, binoculars and telescopes will enhance the view so if you have them, it’s a good time to pull them out.