AUSTIN (KXAN) — Early risers pay attention. Starting June 10, you’ll be able to see five planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter & Saturn) aligned in the night sky. Not only will you be able to see all five planets at once, but you’ll be able to see them in order.
The ideal time to see the planetary alignment is just before dawn. Mercury won’t come into view until around June 10. The ideal time day to see all four planets in alignment will be June 24. That morning, the moon will join the alignment.
The line of planets will start near the rising sun at the horizon in the east and stretch south, according to EarthSky.org. Mercury will be closest to the sun, Venus the brightest, Mars will be distinct with its red hue, Jupiter will be bright, but not as bright as Venus. Saturn will be the toughest to spot. You may need binoculars.
According to EarthSky.org, Neptune and Uranus will also be in the night sky but you will need binoculars to see them.
Why can we see the planets all at the same time?
“All of the planets orbit the sun in roughly the same plane,” said Lara Eakins, Public Outreach and Visiting Scholars Program Coordinator for the Department of Astronomy at The University of Texas. “They all are going around the sun in different speed orbits.”
Eakins said that each planet orbits the sun at different rates. “It just so happens, those cycles occasionally line up to where they’re all kind of together.”
All of the planets can be seen for a four to five hour period, according to Eakins. “Mercury’s a little tricky to find too because it’s kind of low and it’s still going to start to bleed into the morning twilight a little bit. It’s always a little challenging to see.”
Cloudless skies are great for stargazers
This month may be one of the best months for this alignment to happen. Rain isn’t in our forecast for at least the next week. With highs in the 100s all week, morning may be one of the few times you’ll want to be outside. For the next 14 days, rain chances are very low at this time.
The last time these five planets aligned was in 2004. They will not align again until 2040.