A "planetary procession" will visit Earth in a rare event at the beginning of next month A "planetary procession" will visit Earth in a rare event at the beginning of next month

A "planetary procession" will visit Earth in a rare event at the beginning of next month

A "planetary procession" will visit Earth in a rare event at the beginning of next month
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Astronomy enthusiasts are preparing to watch a rare and unique event described as a “planetary parade,” where six planets from the solar system line up in the night sky.

In the early hours of June 3 and 4, 2024, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus will appear in a straight line in an alignment known as a “planetary procession.”

The planet Venus will be the only one absent, and even the moon will be present in the form of a waning crescent.

It is not uncommon for several planets to be present in the sky at the same time, but not with this large number of objects. The alignment of any number of planets from three to eight is called an alignment. The grouping of five or six planets is known as a major alignment. The alignment of five planets is more frequent than six, so this event will be unique and rare.

It is noteworthy that this alignment appears in the Earth's sky, but it is not something that actually happens in the real universe.

The alignment of the planets occurs because all of the planets in the solar system orbit the sun more or less on a flat plane called the “ecliptic” (or ecliptic). Some of them are just above or below this level, but they are about the same level. This is due to the way stars, including the Sun, are formed.

This means that sometimes, the planets will be on the same side of the sun as they move in their orbits, so we can see them in the sky at the same time. They appear to be in a straight line because they are all in the ecliptic circle.

This will happen in early June, about an hour before sunrise. You may need some visual aids to spot this event.

While Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn will be bright enough to see with the naked eye, Uranus and Neptune are very far away and faint, so if you want to look at all the planets lined up, you'll need binoculars or a telescope.

If this alignment is missed, there will be similar events in the next few months, including August 28 and January 18, 2025, which will witness alignments of six planets in the pre-dawn hours.

The alignment will be visible from most locations around the world on June 3. When the planets appear, and in what order, depends on where in the world you are viewing them.

There are tools you can access to determine the right time and location in the sky to view the unique alignment, including the Stellarium website and the Sky Tonight app (iOS and Android).

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