A rare alignment of the five planets will occur in the night sky this week, which will become available for observation at the wee hours of June 17. This phenomenon can be seen with the eyes, but a clear sky and perhaps binoculars or a telescope will be required for the best view.
How to see the planetary alignment
On the morning of June 17, an hour before sunrise, look to the east where you will see a bright object, Jupiter. It will be the brightest of the five planets and the easiest to spot.
Look slightly up and to the right, where you can see Saturn above the southeastern horizon. It will appear dimmer and smaller than Jupiter, but will still be visible to the naked eye.
Then you will be best able to find Mercury. It will be below and to the left of Jupiter, just above the horizon, between the eastern and northeastern horizons.
Neptune and Uranus are the most distant and dim planets in the sky. If you have a clear sky devoid of light pollution, you might need binoculars or a telescope to detect these two planets. Neptune will be about halfway between Jupiter and Saturn, and Uranus will be halfway between Jupiter and Mercury.
The planets will move across the sky from lowest to highest in the following order: Mercury, Uranus, Jupiter, Neptune, and Saturn.
To help figure this out, you can use the astronomy software Stellarium, which can be downloaded for free.
Planetary alignment is a visual phenomenon in which several planets appear in Earth’s sky on the same side of the Sun at the same time. It is not a parade of planets in our solar system, but rather a visual phenomenon where we can see the planets close together in a small area of the sky.
According to StarWalk, the next standing alignment of the 5 planets will not occur until September 8, 2040.
How to find the planets
An app such as Sky Tonight can be useful for finding and identifying planets. Some people may see a parade of planets a few days before and after June 17, but the 17th is the best date to observe the planets because that’s when they will shine brightest.
A rare planetary alignment is an amazing natural phenomenon that can be seen in the night sky. You will need a clear sky and perhaps binoculars or a telescope to observe. These events don’t happen very often, so don’t miss your chance to see this amazing sight.