A rare parade of planets will come into closer focus in the second half of June and even the moon will join the show.
The current early evening sky is completely devoid of any of the five bright planets you can see with the naked eye (Mercury† Venus† Mars† Jupiter and Saturn† You have to wait until the second half of the night to see them, and then they will slowly come into view, one by one, and just before dawn, all five will be stretched across the southern and eastern sky.
It’s certainly not uncommon to see two or three bright planets at a glance, but to five at a time in the picture is something very special. This week’s alignment will be quite “tight,” with the five worlds appearing to extend about halfway up the sky about half an hour before sunrise over an arc from east-northeast to almost due south.
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But even more interesting is that these five planets will appear in the sky in the same order as in their respective orbits around the Sun† In this particular case, scanning from the east-northeast horizon and further up and to the right, will be Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Add the . please Moonwhich can serve from June 23 to 25 to mark the position of the Earth in this arrangement, and we have an exceptionally rare configuration.
Incredibly, the last time this kind of tuning took place was March 5, 1864!
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See Venus and the Moon?
Let us know if you take a picture of the five-world party! You can send images and comments to email@example.com†
Here’s what the lineup will look like, starting with the “lead” planet, Saturn, which will appear around midnight and then continue into the early morning with Jupiter and then Mars. The dazzling Venus appears at daybreak, about 30 or 40 minutes before sunrise, followed by the innermost planet, Mercury.
Saturn is ready for fall evenings in 2022, but now ramps up before midnight local daylight time. To the naked eye, Saturn looks like a bright, yellow-white “star” shining with a calm glow in the relatively dim constellation Capricornus. The famous rings of the planet can be seen with a small telescope with a magnification of at least 30 power. At dawn, Saturn is well placed for viewing in the southeast or south-southeast sky.
Jupiter is a morning object. It’s in the west Fishing, rising around 1:30 a.m. local daylight time. It glows at a brilliant magnitude -2.4 — more than 2.5 times brighter than Sirius, the brightest star in Earth’s sky. The large planet will enter western quadrature (90 degrees west of the sun) on June 29. If you look through a telescope, you can notice that the western part of the planet is slightly less illuminated than the eastern part this month.
Mars finally begins to draw attention to itself as it approaches Soil and continues to light up. It rises in the east shortly before 2 a.m. local daylight time and now shines at a magnitude of 0.5 – a match for Achernar, the ninth brightest star in Earth’s sky. You can recognize Mars by its characteristic orange-yellow hue.
Venus rises around the time of the first glow of dawn, around 3:30 a.m. local daylight time. At -3.9, Venus outshines its closest competitor in brilliance, Jupiter, about fourfold. binoculars will help to get the . to show Pleiades star cluster 9 degrees to the left of Venus before dawn gets too bright.
Mercury is a latecomer to the morning planet scene. On May 21, it was in a lower conjunction and was still far too faint to see low in the morning sky as June began. But on June 16, Mercury was at its greatest elongation, 23 degrees west of the Sun, at a magnitude of 0.6, making it now marginally visible to the naked eye about 30 to 40 minutes before sunrise, very low in the sky. east-northeast. Find it about 10 degrees to the lower left of Venus. (Your clenched fist at arm’s length equals roughly 10 degrees.) Until late June, Mercury remains roughly the same height in the bright twilight as it gets brighter and brighter.
The moon is also involved!
Adding to this remarkable array of planets is Earth’s moon, which will pass through the general environment of all five planets over the next few days, making identifying any particular planet much easier on any given morning. For example, on Saturday (June 18), a waning moon will be 6 degrees lower right of Saturn.
Then, on Tuesday (June 21), as we transition from spring to summer, note the last quarter (“half”) moon which is 5 degrees lower right of Jupiter. If you have a telescope, it’s worth checking out Jupiter to see all four Galilean moons – arranged not in a straight line but in a zigzag configuration, all on one side of the planet. If you move out from Jupiter, you will see Iofollowed by Europethen Callisto and, finally, the largest of the four, Ganymede.
The next morning (Wednesday, June 22), the moon comes within 5 degrees west (right) of Mars.
Then, from June 23-25, the waning crescent moon will occupy the wide space between Mars and Venus, and we can then envision it serving as a proxy for our home planet — a kind of ersatz Earth — to help complete the planetary sequence. .
It’s worth setting your alarm on June 26 at about 5 a.m. local daylight time to see a striking celestial scene with a slender crescent moon hovering 2.5 degrees to the left of Venus. And on the same morning, half a dozen degrees above them, will be the beautiful Pleiades. You can fit all three in the same field of view of standard 7-power binoculars. Simply exquisite!
Last but certainly not least, on June 27, about 30 to 40 minutes before sunrise, use binoculars to scan the east-northeast horizon in the brightening dawn twilight and see if you can catch Mercury, which will have brightened to magnitude -0 ,4. And 3.5 degrees at the top left you can also glimpse the now extraordinarily thin crescent moon, only 3% illuminated. As a bonus, see if you can spot the first magnitude orange star Aldebaran, about 7 degrees to the left of Mercury.
Almost everyone gets a good view
Perhaps the best thing about this immersive planetary lineup is that it can be seen even from light-polluted cities and towns. All five planets (and of course the moon) are striking enough to shine through the haze and bright lights of major metropolitan areas.
Related: What equipment do you need for stargazing in a city?
The only downside, of course, is that to see the lineup in its full size you’ll have to get up as dawn begins to brighten the eastern sky. Keep in mind that it will be decades before you have another chance to see the planets and moon arranged in such a way, so don’t miss this opportunity!
And one last note: make sure you have an unobstructed view of the eastern and southern horizons so that you have a clear view of the moon and planets every morning. The best views are either from an elevated area above tall buildings or trees, or from a shoreline looking out over open water to a flat sea horizon.
Good luck, and may you have clear skies!
Joe Rao is an instructor and guest lecturer at New York’s Hayden Planetarium† He writes about astronomy: Natural History Magazinethe peasant almanac and other publications. follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom and further facebook†