The stars that you might have been gazing at thoughtfully this week might not have been stars at all! Turns out, the planets in our solar system have been aligned in a way that they’re visible to the naked eye this month.
Astronomers have confirmed that Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are visible in the pre-dawn sky in the order of their distance from the sun each morning. They have also confirmed that, despite light pollution, these will be visible even in urban areas.
🪐 Planets align. It’s fine. What is time? Does that even rhyme?— NASA (@NASA) June 19, 2022
Look up starting tonight to see Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn spread out and appear to line up in the sky. The crescent moon joins them on June 23: https://t.co/36QwkIxfawpic.twitter.com/uh5V9W2q45
Alison Bieryla, manager of the Science Center Astronomy Lab and Telescope at Harvard University, spoke to Boston Globe and said that Venus will appear the brightest because it’s the closest to Earth and Jupiter should be just as easy to spot.
While you don’t need any gear to spot these planets, Bieryla says even the most basic equipment would help you spot more celestial objects in the sky.
“If you have a pair of binoculars or a telescope, point them at the planets and moon. With even a small telescope, or binoculars on a tripod, you can see Jupiter’s largest 4 moons (called the Galilean moons) and Saturn’s rings. If you are in a dark enough location with a small telescope, you might also be able to see the atmospheric bands in Jupiter’s atmosphere!”
Experts claim that the the last time this phenomenon happened was back in 2004 and this won’t repeat again until 2040.
While you would be able to view this all month long, this week promises the best viewing potential, especially because only on Friday (June 24th) a waning crescent moon will join the party and appear in alignment with the rest of these planets.
According to astronomy guide Sky & Telescope, viewers in the Northern Hemisphere would have to find a spot with open views to the Eastern and Southeastern horizons, while people in the Southern hemisphere would have to look towards Eastern and Northeastern horizons.