The five planets are moving in a rare line, which will be visible from Earth this week. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are descending – in that order – for the first time since December 2004. On Friday, June 24, the phenomenon will be most visible to observers of the stars.
Although it is common to see the union of three planets close to each other, seeing five is a rarity, according to Ski & Telescope. The planets are descending in their natural order from the Sun, which is also exceptional, says a scientific journal published by the American Astronomical Society.
The five so-called “naked eye” planets were visible starting June 3 and 4, and the composition could be seen with binoculars – but only about half an hour before Mercury was lost in the glare of the sun.
But on June 24, the viewing will be optimal. Even if the distance between Mercury and Saturn increases, it is easier to spot Mercury, so it is easier to see all five planets, Diana Hanikainen, editor of Ski & Telescope, told CBS News via e-mail.
Hanikainen said that the sky on the morning of the 24th will “represent a beautiful sight” because the falling crescent will also join the procession between Venus and Mars.
The planets should be visible in the days before this. Ski & Telescope says the best time to see the lineup is June 24, 45 minutes before sunrise. It should be visible on the eastern horizon.
Four planets have been lined up with the naked eye in the last few months, according to NASA. But in the next few months, Saturn, Mars, Jupiter and Venus will expand. By September, Venus and Saturn will no longer be visible to most observers.
Another astronomical phenomenon will be visible in June: the globular star cluster M13, a tightly packed spherical collection of stars. M13, also known as the Herculean cluster, contains thousands of stars that are thought to be about 12 billion years old – almost the age of the universe itself, NASA says.
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