Five planets will line up in the sky in June. Here’s how to see it.
In June, five planets will move into a rare alignment, which will be visible from Earth. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are lining up — in that order — for the first time since December 2004.
While it is common to see a conjunction of three planets close together, seeing five is rare, according to Sky & Telescope. The planets are lining up in their natural order from the Sun, which is also remarkable, says the science magazine published by American Astronomical Society.
The five so-called “naked-eye” planets were visible beginning on June 3 and 4, but on June 24, they will be even easier to see.
On the mornings of June 3 and 4, the line-up was visible with binoculars — but only for about half an hour, before Mercury was lost in the glare of the Sun.
But on June 24, viewing will be optimal. Even if the distance between Mercury and Saturn increases, it’s getting easier to spot Mercury, so it is getting progressively easier to see all five planets, Diana Hannikainen, observing editor of Sky & Telescope, told CBS News via email.
Hannikainen said the sky on the morning of the 24th “will present a delightful sight” because the waning crescent Moon will also join the procession between Venus and Mars.
Even if is cloudy, the planets should be visible on the days leading up to this. Sky & Telescope says the best time to see the line up on June24 is 45 minutes before sunrise. It should be visible on the eastern horizon.
Four of the naked-eye planets have been lining up in the for the past few months, according to NASA. But over the next few months, Saturn, Mars, Jupiter and Venus will spread out. By September, Venus and Saturn will no longer be visible to observers.
Another astronomical phenomenon will be visible in June: the M13 globular star cluster, a tightly packed spherical collection of stars. The M13, also known as the Hercules Cluster, contains thousands of stars, which are thought to be around 12 billion years old — almost the age of the universe itself, NASA says.