A Rare 5 Planet Alignment Is Visible in the Morning Sky This Month
Five planets will be visible in sequential order.
The stars, or rather, planets, are aligning in your favor.
This month, you can spot a series of five planets lined up across the morning sky. Four of them have been aligned for a while this spring, but Mercury will join Venus, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter in June. Not only are they going to be visible in the southeastern sky, but they'll also be lined up sequentially, or the same way as they sit in the solar system.
To spot the celestial alignment, you'll need to get up early. The planets are visible in the morning before sunrise. Though some are up well before that time, that's especially true if you want to catch the difficult-to-spot Mercury. For stargazers on Earth, it's always low in the sky and only visible for a bit around sunrise or sunset (depending on the time of year). Binoculars can be helpful to see it before it gets overtaken by the sun's light.
Get out there around an hour before sunrise and look to the east-southeast. The planets form a line, albeit not a super straight one, with Mercury and Venus sitting low in the east and the planets gradually rising as you move southward in the sky. The planets are brighter than most stars, making them somewhat easy to identify. Though, an app like Star Walk 2 can help you identify them and other celestial objects with ease.
Even if you don't manage to see the planet closest to the sun, a four-planet line is still a beautiful way to start your day.
That many planets lined up in a row is a rare sight. Though, Diana Hannikainen, Sky & Telescope's Observing Editor, told NPR that it's not "incredibly rare." They last lined up in 2004, and you'll be able to find them in this arrangement again in 2040. It's not an everyday sight, but it's also not a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Mercury will get a little easier to see the later you're looking in June, per NPR. The timing works out well because, on June 24, the moon will join the clan in the morning sky. You can get a sense of what that line-up looks like in the image here from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory's monthly "What's Up" video.
Get out there and enjoy the wonders of the galaxy.
Ready to go stargazing?
Here are all the best stargazing events that you can get out and see this month or you could stay in a stream the northern lights from home. If you're just getting started, check out our guide to astronomy for beginners or easy stargazing road trips from big US cities.