Witness rare celestial magic on June 3 as 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 actually allow you to witness six planets align in the sky. This is a rare astronomical phenomenon. So, if you were not present for the breathtaking show of the northern lights a few weeks ago, you may have another opportunity to see something really unique in the night sky.

Witness the six-planet alignment on June 3rd.(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.

Unlock exclusive access to the latest news on India’s general elections, only on the HT App. Download Now! Download Now!

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

What is a planetary alignment?

According to Kate Pattle, a lecturer at University College London’s Physics & Astronomy Department in conversation with Glamour UK, “A planetary alignment is an astronomical event that happens when, by coincidence, the orbits of several of the planets of the Solar System bring them to roughly the same side of the Sun at the same time.”

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

As Kate points out, “planetary alignment” in this context refers to the planets aligning visually in the sky, or in a “planetary parade,” but it does not mean that they will be in true orbital alignment.

“It’s important to emphasise that the planets aren’t forming a straight line in space – that’s a much rarer astronomical event called a syzygy,” she says. “However, because all the planets – including the Earth – orbit around the Sun in roughly the same orientation (moving in which we call the “Plane of the Ecliptic”), when they’re on the same side of the Sun as each other, they appear to form a line in the sky when we view them from Earth.”

How to spot the planetary alignment?

To spot the upcoming planetary alignment, which is most visible an hour before sunrise on June 3rd (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 for seeing all six planets, especially the faint Uranus and Neptune, and possibly Mercury. Jupiter will be the easiest to spot due to its brightness. Planets don’t twinkle like stars, which aids identification, but using a night sky app like Sky Map, Star Chart, or Sky Tonight can help pinpoint them accurately.

Planetary alignments are rather common within themselves, especially when two, three, or even four planets align in the sky. Five or more planets aligning, however, is less common.

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

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button