By Megan Marbles and Ashley Strickland, CNN
It will culminate in a rare alignment of five planets on June 24, allowing for a stunning view of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn as they line up in the order of the planets.
The event started at the beginning of June and has continued to get brighter and easier to see as the month progresses, according to Diana Hanekainen, monitoring editor at Sky & Telescope.
A waning crescent moon will join the party between Venus and Mars on Friday, adding another celestial body to the lineup. The Moon will represent Earth’s relative position in the alignment, which means that this is where our planet will appear in the order of the planets.
This rare phenomenon has not occurred since December 2004, and this year, the distance between Mercury and Saturn will be smaller, according to Sky & Telescope.
How to display the alignment
Henekainen said stargazers would need a clear view of the eastern horizon to spot this amazing phenomenon. She added that humans can view the display of planets with the naked eye, but it is recommended to use binoculars for an optimal viewing experience.
She said the best time to view the five planets is one hour before sunrise. The night before you plan your alignment show, check out the sunrise in your area.
Some stargazers are particularly enthusiastic about the celestial event, including Hanekainen. She traveled from her home west of Boston to a seaside town along the Atlantic Ocean to secure a perfect view of the alignment.
“I’ll be up there with my own binoculars, looking east and southeast and cutting all my toes and feet off until it’s clear,” Henekainen said.
You don’t have to travel to look at the event because it will be visible to people all over the world.
Stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere can see planets from the eastern horizon to the southeastern horizon while those in the Southern Hemisphere should look along the eastern horizon to the northeastern horizon. The only requirement is a clear sky in the direction of the alignment.
By the next day, the moon will have continued its orbit around the Earth, knocking it out of alignment with the planets, she said.
If you missed the alignment of five planets in sequential order, the next one will occur in 2040, according to Sky & Telescope.
- June 14: Strawberry Moon
- July 13: Pak Mun
- August 11: Sturgeon Moon
- September 10: Harvest Moon
- October 9: Hunter’s Moon
- November 8: Beaver Moon
- December 7: Cold Moon
A partial solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes in front of the sun but only blocks some of its light. Make sure to wear the appropriate eclipse glasses to view the solar eclipse safely, as sunlight can damage the eyes.
A partial solar eclipse on October 25 will be visible to those in Greenland, Iceland, Europe, northeastern 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 visible to 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 be absent for those in the eastern regions of North America.
- South Delta constellation: July 29-30
- Capricorn Alpha: July 30 to 31
- Perseids: August 11-12
- Orionids: from October 20 to 21
- Southern Torres: 4-5 November
- North Torres: November 11-12
- Leonids: 17-18 November
- Geminids: From December 13 to 14
- Ursids: from December 21 to 22
If you live in an urban area, you may want to drive somewhere where the city lights aren’t scattered for the best view.
Look for an open area with a wide view of the sky. Make sure you have a chair or blanket so you can look straight. Give your eyes about 20 to 30 minutes – without looking at your phone or other electronic devices – to adjust to the darkness so that the meteors are easier to spot.
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