The Planets are Lining Up Tonight. No, Really…

An illustration of the view at dawn on June 3 and 4.

Grab your binoculars and set your alarm.

For the first time in 18 years, five planets — Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn — will be sequentially aligned and visible at dawn throughout this month.

Those watching from the continental United States should be able to catch a look, as long as they’re up early enough, Diana Hannikainen, Sky & Telescope’s Observing Editor, told NPR.

Beginning on Friday, the five planets will appear on the eastern horizon before sunrise, Sky & Telescope explained. They will be aligned based on proximity to the sun with Mercury (the closest of the planets to the sun) appearing lowest and Saturn being highest.

“The planets will not all be in a straight line in space; they’ll just appear that way in our sky,” Rick Fienberg, senior contributing editor for Sky & Telescope, told Axios.

 What will we see? “Venus and Jupiter will be very bright — brighter than any nighttime star. Mercury, Mars, and Saturn will be considerably fainter but should still be noticeable to the unaided eye,” Fienberg told Axios. Mercury will become more visible later in the month, Diana Hannikainen, Sky & Telescope’s Observing editor, told NPR. On June 24, viewers can see the waning crescent moon between Venus and Mars, too.

This alignment will go on through the month and won’t occur again until 2040.

If you want to take a look, be sure to be at your viewing spot about 30 minutes before sunrise, Hannikainen says. For most, an ideal spot should have a clear view of the horizon toward the east. And binoculars are critical, she adds.

NPR Axios