Earthlings are able to see five of their closest planetary neighbors all lined up in a row this month.
Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are aligned in their natural order across the morning sky in a rare conjunction.
In astronomical terms, conjunction is when two or more objects appear to line up in the sky.
Over the next week, Mercury will become easier to spot as it moves away from the sun. The planet is typically difficult to view, but Mercury will reach its greatest elongation, or farthest point from the sun, on June 16, making it easier to see, according to EarthSky.org.
And on June 24, about an hour before sunrise, skygazers can peep an extremely rare solar system extravaganza. The waning crescent moon will also be in position between Venus and Mars — taking the place of Earth in the planetary lineup.
It’s the icing on the conjunction cupcake.
“Planets are often getting closer to each other and farther away from each other, but this is just a particularly fun order. It’s just coincidence,” Michelle Thaller, an astronomer at NASA told the Washington Post. “It’s just kind of this really sort of fun tour of the solar system that you can take for free.”
Over the next few months, the planets will appear to spread out across the morning sky. And by September, Venus and Saturn won’t be viewable for most morning sky observers, according to NASA.
All eight planets will never perfectly align due to our different orbits and tilts. Conjunctions of several planets happen fairly often, but the conjunction of five planets only happens about every 20 years.
According to the Washington Post, the last time five planets aligned was in Dec. 2004 and the next time it will happen will be in 2040.
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