STARGAZERS is in for a heavenly treat this week as not one, not two, but SEVEN planets are lined up in the pre-dawn sky.
Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus will align beginning June 24, the first conjunction on this scale in 18 years.
What is the June 24 conjunction?
A total of seven planets will appear about half an hour before sunrise between June 24th and 27th.
Five of the Solar System’s heroes – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn – will be visible to the naked eye on Friday.
This makes the event a great celestial showcase for amateurs and seasoned stargazers alike.
The remaining two – Uranus and Neptune – will be too dim to see unaided, but you can spot them with binoculars or a telescope until around June 27th.
The seven planets have not appeared in the same line on the horizon since December 2004.
As the day begins on June 24, Uranus is 6 degrees east of the Moon in Aries and shines at magnitude 5.9.
Neptune is 11.5 degrees west of Jupiter and mag 7.8 away in western Pisces.
The line of planets stretches across the night sky, making photography difficult.
However, it will offer quite a spectacle if you are willing to get up early enough to see it.
How to observe the conjunction
Speaking to The Sun, amateur astronomer and science communicator Kevin Walsh revealed where to look to find the rare alignment.
“If you look east about 45 minutes before sunrise on June 24, you can see this phenomenon,” he said.
“For those in the north-east of the UK, this will be around 3:30am and around 4:00am in the south-west
“Mercury will appear closest to the horizon around east-northeast and we will have about 30-40 minutes of visibility before dusk interferes. Saturn will appear towards the southeast in the sky.”
Walsh has a lot of experience combing the skies and is one of the brains behind it theplanets.organ educational website for school children and amateur astronomers
Alignments of all planets (except Earth) are very rare, he said.
The next time the five planets visible to the naked eye will line up is expected to be in September 2040.
Walsh urged stargazers to find a high vantage point and wrap up warm for the best experience.
“For most people, a good vantage point should offer a view of the horizon to the east to see Mercury’s rise,” he said.
“If you can, try to get out of the city center. The tall buildings and street lights will bother you when gazing at the stars, even going to a local park or playing field gives a better vantage point.”
“Remember to dress appropriately, even though it’s summer, it can be quite chilly at 3:00 a.m.”
How to see the conjunction online
If you are in a place with heavy light pollution or bad weather conditions, don’t worry!
The Virtual Telescope Project is streaming the conjunction live as seen through a telescope located in Rome.
This means you can watch the conjunction from the comfort of your own home if you prefer.
The free broadcast is scheduled for June 27 at 3:30am UK time (10:30pm EST).
You can access it through the Virtual Telescope Project website.
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https://www.thesun.ie/tech/8978523/seven-planets-align-first-time-how-to-watch/ Seven planets are aligning in a “mega-conjunction” this week for the first time in 18 YEARS – watch it