Sometimes, the universe provides an illustration of a ready-made science lesson. Just such an alignment is happening this month, as all the planets are in order to the naked eye, from inner Mercury to outer Saturn. June 2022 offers early risers the chance to track the planets with the naked eye, from Mercury to Saturn.
Sure, you’ll need to wake up early (it’s summer in the northern hemisphere after all), but the view is worth it. And unlike many other Astro events, this one doesn’t require any special gear or equipment to witness, just a good one (to quote Commander Adama from Battlestar Galactica) toolbox of “Mark-I Eyeballs.”
This is not a true conjunction or alignment: the worlds of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are simply laid out for our beautiful world at dawn. This was the ancient sky, a collection of “wandering stars” represented by the planets known since ancient times.
The orderly scene was completed when shy Mercury appeared low in the morning sky in late May and Mars swapped places with Jupiter after close conjunction on May 29.
When to see Mercury, Venus and Mars?
Dawn offers one of the most beautiful astronomical views for 2022.
The planets are at their shortest wingspan (just over 90 degrees) on the morning of Saturday, June 4. The ordered row of planets is like something out of an elementary astronomical textbook minus our Earth slot between Venus and Mars. The series is not broken until early July, when Mercury leaves the scene.
If you’ve never caught volatile Mercury, now’s a good time to cross the timid planet off your astronomical “life list.” Mercury will reach its greatest elongation 23 degrees west of the sun on June 16, 2022.
Of course, it’s not super rare to catch all the naked planets on the horizon at once, but it happens once every few years. This is primarily a function of the two slowest worlds, Jupiter overtaking Saturn, which occurs in their respective orbits about once every 20 years. We had just such an event on December 21, 2020, with the ultra-close (6.1′) pass of the two gas giant worlds. This helped set us up for this summer’s dawn layout. Connect the dots of the planets and you can almost trace the ecliptic plane, the flat orbit of the Earth around the sun.
How to see the moon and Saturn this month
Joining the scene, the Moon begins its planetary tour with a 4-degree pass near Saturn on the morning of June 18, 2022. The waning crescent moon moves even closer to the dawn planets in the following days, effectively eclipsing (passing before) Mars. for the South Pacific on June 22 and Uranus for Indonesia and Australia on June 24.
The passage of the Moon on June 26 at 2.6 degrees from Venus also provides a good signpost for seeing Venus with the naked eye during the day, using the nearby Moon as a guide.
Highlight calendars: 2040
The close conjunction of Jupiter and Venus in 2013 almost sparked a conflict between India and China when the pair were briefly suspected of using military spy drones. Remember that astronomy and knowledge of the sky and planets can indeed save lives.
As we look ahead into the 21st century, we see major planetary groupings that are even closer. Mark in your diary the evening of September 8, 2040, when all the planets visible to the naked eye (plus the moon!) will be slightly less than 10 degrees apart (!) at dusk.
Something to look forward to, that’s for sure. In the meantime, be sure to check out the fine lineup of planets at sunrise for an open-air solar system classroom.
This article was originally published on Universe today by means of David Dickinson† Read the original article here.