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Be sure to look up this weekend to see the start of a rare five-planet alignment gracing the night sky.
Beginning in the early morning hours of Friday, June 3, the five planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn will line up in planetary order.
This rare phenomenon hasn’t happened since December 2004, and this year the distance between Mercury and Saturn will be smaller, according to Sky & Telescope.
Astronomers will need to have their binoculars handy as well as a clear view of the eastern horizon to spot Mercury later this month, the space magazine said. As June progresses, Mercury will become brighter and easier to see, according to Diana Hannikainen, Sky & Telescope’s observant editor.
The rest of the planets should be constantly visible to the naked eye, she added.
The best time to see the five planets is within 30 minutes before sunrise, she said. The night before you plan to see the lineup, check when the sun will rise in your area.
Some astronomers are particularly excited about the celestial event, including Hannikainen. She flew from her home west of Boston to a beach town along the Atlantic Ocean to ensure an optimal view of the lineup.
“I’ll be out there with my binoculars, looking east and southeast and crossing all my fingers and toes so it’s all clear,” Hannikainen said.
You don’t need to move to catch a glimpse of the action, as it will be visible to people all over the world.
Astronomers in the northern hemisphere can view planets from the east to southeast horizon, while those in the southern hemisphere should look along the east-northeast horizon. The only requirement is a clear sky in the direction of the alignment.
If you wake up and the weather blocks the sky, don’t worry, Hannikainen said.
“Just keep watching throughout June and as soon as you have a clear morning, get out there and enjoy that view,” she said.
In addition to the five planets, the waning crescent moon will also align between Venus and Mars on June 24.
Unlike the days before it, this special celestial alignment can be seen within an hour of sunrise, Hannikainen said.
The next day, the moon will have continued its orbit around the Earth, misaligning it with the planets, she said.
If you miss the alignment of the five planets in sequential order, the next one will be in 2040, according to Sky & Telescope.
There will be seven more full moons in 2022, according to The Old Farmers’ Almanac:
- June 14: Strawberry Moon
- July 13: Buckmoon
- August 11: Sturgeon Moon
- September 10: Harvest Moon
- October 9: Hunter’s Moon
- November 8: Beaver Moon
- December 7: Cold Moon
These are the popularized names associated with the monthly full moons, but the meaning of each may vary among Native American tribes.
There will be another total lunar eclipse and partial solar eclipse in 2022, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
Partial solar eclipses occur when the moon passes in front of the sun but blocks only part of its light. Be sure to wear appropriate eclipse glasses to safely view solar eclipses, as sunlight can damage the eyes.
A partial solar eclipse on October 25 will be visible to those in Greenland, Iceland, Europe, northeast Africa, the Middle East, western Asia, India, and western China. None of the partial solar eclipses will be visible from North America.
A total lunar eclipse will also be on display for those in Asia, Australia, the Pacific, South America and North America on November 8 between 3:01 a.m. ET and 8:58 a.m. ET – but the moon will set for those in the east. regions of North America.
Check out the 11 remaining showers that will peak in 2022:
- Southern Delta Aquarids: July 29-30
- Alpha Capricornids: July 30-31
- Perseids: August 11 to 12
- Orionids: October 20 to 21
- Southern Taurids: November 4-5
- Northern Taurids: November 11-12
- Leonids: November 17 to 18
- Geminids: December 13 to 14
- Ursids: December 21 to 22
If you live in an urban area, you might want to drive to a place that isn’t littered with city lights to get the best view.
Find an open area with a wide view of the sky. Make sure you have a chair or blanket so you can look up. And give your eyes about 20 to 30 minutes — without looking at your phone or other electronics — to adjust to the darkness so the meteors are easier to spot.