Witness rare celestial magic on June 3 when six planets align in a straight line; here’s how to spot them

Next month, on June 3, there will be a planetary alignment that may allow you to witness six planets aligned in the sky. This is a rare astronomical phenomenon. So if you weren’t present for the stunning Northern Lights show a few weeks ago, you may have another chance to see something truly unique in the night sky.

Witness the alignment of six planets on June 3. (Pixabay)

It is the best opportunity to see Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune all at once in the sky due to the planetary alignment.

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The planets are expected to align in the sky early Monday, June 3, 2024.

What is a planetary alignment?

According to Kate Pattle, professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at University College London, in conversation with Glamor UK, “a planetary alignment is an astronomical event that occurs when, by coincidence, the orbits of several of the planets in the Solar System bring them closer to each other. approximately the same side of the Sun at the same time.”

“This means that they appear in a line in the sky, when we see them from Earth. In this case, the planets Jupiter, Mercury, Uranus, Mars, Neptune and Saturn will form a line in the sky, in that order,” explains Kate.

As Kate points out, “planetary alignment” in this context refers to the planets lining up visually in the sky, or in a “planetary parade,” but that doesn’t mean they will be in true orbital alignment.

“It’s important to emphasize that the planets are not forming a straight line in space; that’s a much rarer astronomical event called syzygy,” he says. “However, because all the planets, including the Earth, orbit the Sun in approximately the same orientation (moving in what we call the “Ecliptic Plane”), when they are on the same side of the Sun as the others . , they appear to form a line in the sky when we see them from Earth.”

How to detect planetary alignment?

To spot the next planetary alignment, which is most visible an hour before sunrise on June 3 (and a few days before and after), head to an area with minimal light pollution and an unobstructed view of the eastern horizon.

Jupiter, Mercury and Uranus will be low in the sky, making binoculars essential to view all six planets, especially faint Uranus and Neptune, and possibly Mercury. Jupiter will be the easiest to spot due to its brightness. Planets don’t blink like stars, which helps identify them, but using a night sky app like Sky Map, Star Chart, or Sky Tonight can help identify them accurately.

Planetary alignments are quite common, especially when two, three or even four planets align in the sky. However, it is less common for five or more planets to align.

April 8, 2024 was the last time the planets were aligned. In the US, Canada and Mexico, the planetary alignment was visible during the total solar eclipse.