A Rare Planetary Alignment Is Near: How and When to See This Astronomical Event

A Rare Planetary Alignment Is Near: How and When to See This Astronomical Event

Something extraordinary will happen in early June. We are referring to the upcoming planetary alignment in the Solar System. Here's how you can see it.

After a solar eclipse in April and the Eta Aquariid meteor in May another celestial event is about to happen on June 3 2024, one that we rarely get to appreciate.

In June, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus will appear in a straight line. When more than three planets are involved, it can be described as a planetary alignment. In this case, there will be six planets from our Solar System visible in the sky at the same time. 

According to information shared by the specialized site, ScienceAlert, a planetary alignment occurs when all the planets of the Solar System orbit the Sun, more or less, in the "ecliptic plane". Although some celestial bodies are slightly above or below that plane, they all appear to be in line. 

Given the described circumstance, six planets of our system will soon be on the same side of the Sun as they move along their orbits, creating the illusion that they are perfectly aligned in a straight line.

So how and when can we see this astronomical event? The astronomical event is marked for June 3, but the rise and set time of each planet will depend on your location. Fortunately, there are tools that make this easier. For instance, there's the Time and Date website, which allows us to set any desired date, showing the rise and set times of the different planets.

However, it isn't clear if this will this phenomenon be reserved to those who have specialized observation equipment. A senior contributor to Forbes, Jamie Carter, has challenged Star Walk's claim that all six planets will be visible before sunrise on June 3. He states that only Mars and Saturn will be faintly visible to the naked eye, while the other planets will either be too close to the sun, or require a powerful telescope.

This scepticism has been backed up by Preston Dyches from NASA's "Skywatching Tips" series. He confirms that Mercury and Jupiter will be too low in the sky to be seen at sunrise, also noting that Uranus is difficult to spot even with ideal conditions. Neptune is even dimmer, needing a telescope to view it. 

If you want a chance of seeing this planetary event, you can give yourself the best odds by moving to a location as far away from light pollution as possible. If you do have access to a telescope then it would be beneficial. 

If you miss this alignment, Science Alert said that there are more alignments of the same six planets set for the coming months. The alignment will be visible again in the pre-dawn hours of August 28, 2024 and January 18, 2025. On February 28, 2025, all seven planets will appear in the sky at the same time