Solar system show offered in a rare alignment of planets

A rare sight is set to fill the skies this month, with five solar system planets aligned – and it’s something we won’t see again for another 20 years.

And the best thing about it is that you don’t even need a telescope to see it.

The rare solar spectacle hasn’t been seen since 2004 and won’t happen again until 2040.

So what exactly is going on and how can you see it?

Copyright : Olga Yastremska

What’s going on and how can I see it?

According to AccuWeather, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn have aligned and will remain so until the end of June.

But seeing it could be tricky unless you’re willing to stay up really late or get up really early.

The planets can be seen above the eastern horizon every morning through the end of the month, and while a telescope isn’t necessary, weather conditions can affect whether or not you’ll be able to see all five.

The best time to see them is around 45 to 60 minutes before the sun rises on a cloudless morning, and since the sun rises before 5 a.m. on these days, people may not be enthusiastic about setting off an alarm so soon.

If you want to get up early enough to see all five planets, the place you choose is also important.

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Since Mercury stays so low on the horizon, things like trees and buildings could block your view of it.

Mercury will likely be easier to spot if you locate Venus first, which will be overhead and to the right.

If you keep looking to the right and a little higher each time, then you should be able to spot the Moon, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.

Each planet will appear higher in the sky than the last, but that’s just Earth’s perspective, and in reality, they’ll all be aligned and spread out much farther out in the solar system than they appear.

Your best chance

While all five planets will be visible throughout the second half of June, there is an optimal time to see them.

The best time to see them will be three days after the summer solstice, which is at 5:13 a.m. EDT (10:13 a.m. UK) on Tuesday, June 21.

The crescent moon is expected to align with the planets sometime before dawn on Friday, June 24, meaning photographers may want to wait until that day to get the best shots possible.

When July arrives, the planets will begin to space out again, with Mercury being the first to disappear from sight.

You will still be able to see Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn in the pre-dawn sky throughout July, but they will be much farther apart.

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Arline J. Mercier