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Planetary parade: How to see several planets in Earth’s solar system align in June

NASA said the next alignment of Saturn, Jupiter, Venus, Mars, and Mercury will happen on September 8, 2040.

planetary alignment
The start of the month will already provide a taste of the planetary parade. (Reuters)

Four planets of the Earth’s solar system will align in a parade on June 24, giving astronomers a rare glimpse of a planetary parade. Venus will be in the US’ east-southeast about 6° above the horizon at 04.30 AM Eastern Standard Time (2 PM Indian Standard Time), while Jupiter and Mars will be 15° high. Saturn will be about 20° high, aligned at a 30° angle to the horizon to the Sun’s west along with the crescent moon. These planets will be bright enough to be visible with the naked eye and will align in order before sunrise towards the end of June.

The start of the month will already provide a taste of the planetary parade. On June 4 morning, all the planets in the solar system will line up in ascending order spanning 91° from the sun. However, Mercury will be the first to break the horizon.

The planetary line is close to the ecliptic, the path the sun takes through the sky.  This alignment, however, does not necessarily mean that all the planets are lined up — it means that some planets are in the same general region of the sky. This almost never happens with all the planets, but instead with two or three at one time. Most of the time, only the brightest planets tend to align in a row that resembles a necklace.

However, this only happens after every 50 years. In April 2000, Mercury, Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, and Venus appeared above the western horizon in a similar alignment. It is likely that something like this will happen again in 2040.

WHEN PLANETS ALIGN

In astrology, considered a pseudo-science, it is believed that when planets align in a straight line, it would bring either the greatest fortune or the greatest disaster for the universe.

In astronomy, however, when the planets align in a straight line, it has no effects on the Earth. NASA said the next alignment of Saturn, Jupiter, Venus, Mars, and Mercury will happen on September 8, 2040.

HOW TO SEE THE PLANETARY ALIGNMENT

The best time to see the alignment will depend on local circumstances. People with a flat horizon to the east will be able to see Mercury from June 10. However, those with a more obstructed view will have to wait until late June. The alignment will be visible into early July. 

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