5 planets take center stage as they line up in the night sky

Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn will line up in the sky in June. A rare alignment of five planets will culminate on Friday, allowing for spectacular viewing of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn as they line up in planetary order. (SDI Productions, Getty Images)

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ATLANTA — A rare five-planet alignment will culminate on Friday, allowing for spectacular viewing of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn as they line up in planetary order.

The event started in early June and continued to get brighter and easier to see as the month progressed, according to Sky and Telescope editor Diana Hannikainen.

A waning crescent moon will join the party between Venus and Mars on Friday, adding another celestial object to the lineup. The moon will represent Earth’s relative position in alignment, meaning this is where our planet will appear in planetary order.

This rare phenomenon has not occurred since December 2004, and this year the distance between Mercury and Saturn will be smaller, according to Sky and Telescope.

How to visualize alignment

Astronomers will need to have a clear view of the eastern horizon to spot the incredible phenomenon, Hannikainen said. Humans can see the planetary spectacle with the naked eye, but binoculars are recommended for the best viewing experience, she added.

The best time to see all five planets is an hour before sunrise, she said. The day before you schedule the roster viewing, check when the sun will rise in your region.

Some astronomers are particularly excited about the celestial event, including Hannikainen. She flew from her home west of Boston to a beach town along the Atlantic Ocean to ensure an optimal view of the lineup.

“I’ll be out there with my binoculars, looking east and southeast and crossing all my fingers and toes so it’s all clear,” Hannikainen said.

You don’t need to move to catch a glimpse of the action, as it will be visible to people all over the world.

Astronomers in the northern hemisphere can view planets from the east to southeast horizon, while those in the southern hemisphere should look along the east-northeast horizon. The only requirement is a clear sky in the direction of the alignment.

The next day, the moon will have continued its orbit around the Earth, misaligning it with the planets, she said.

If you miss the alignment of the five planets in sequential order, the next one will be in 2040, according to Sky & Telescope.

There will be seven more full moons in 2022, according to the old farmers almanac:

  • June 14: Strawberry Moon
  • July 13: Buckmoon
  • August 11: Sturgeon Moon
  • September 10: Harvest Moon
  • October 9: Hunter’s Moon
  • November 8: Beaver Moon
  • December 7: Cold Moon

These are the popularized names associated with the monthly full moons, but the meaning of each may vary among Native American tribes.

Lunar and solar eclipses

There will be another total lunar eclipse and partial solar eclipse in 2022, according to the old farmer’s almanac.

Partial solar eclipses occur when the moon passes in front of the sun but blocks only part of its light. Be sure to wear appropriate eclipse glasses to safely view solar eclipses, as sunlight can damage the eyes.

A partial solar eclipse on October 25 will be visible to those in Greenland, Iceland, Europe, northeast Africa, the Middle East, western Asia, India and western China. None of the partial solar eclipses will be visible from North America.

A total lunar eclipse will also be on display for those in Asia, Australia, the Pacific, South America and North America on November 8 between 3:01 a.m. ET and 8:58 a.m. ET – but the moon will set for those from eastern parts of North America.

meteor showers

Discover the other 11 showers that will peak in 2022:

  • Southern Delta Aquarids: July 29-30
  • Alpha Capricornids: July 30-31
  • Perseids: August 11 to 12
  • Orionids: October 20 to 21
  • Southern Taurids: November 4-5
  • Northern Taurids: November 11-12
  • Leonids: November 17 to 18
  • Geminids: December 13 to 14
  • Ursids: 21 to 22 Dec.

If you live in an urban area, you might want to drive to a place that isn’t littered with city lights to get the best view.

Find an open area with a wide view of the sky. Make sure you have a chair or blanket so you can look up. And give your eyes about 20-30 minutes – without looking at your phone or other electronics – to adjust to the darkness so the meteors are easier to spot.

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