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When can I see Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn aligned across the sky?

for the first time in nearly 18 years those who get up early will be able to see a rare celestial event of five planets lined up across the morning sky.

Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn aligned across the sky in June
Future PublishingGetty

Early birds will have a rare opportunity in June as Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn will be aligned across the sky. The confluence of the five planets hasn’t happened since December 2004 and will be easiest to see on 24 June.

You’ll need to get up early though. The spectacle will be visible about 45 minutes before the sun comes up in the southeastern sky, which will be at 5:26 am in New York and 5:43 am in Los Angeles. Those that miss this reunion of the five brightest planets visible to the naked eye will have to wait until 2040 for another chance.

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The planet conjunction will be visible throughout June

You’ll be busy or the weather forecast calls for cloudy skies? Fear not, you don’t need to wait until 24 June, the conjunction of Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, in that order, began a few months ago and will continue through September as they gradually spread apart. As an added bonus between 17 and 27 June, star gazers will be able to see the crescent Moon join the line-up as well.

But you’ll want to find a place with an unobstructed view of the eastern horizon for a chance to see Mercury. With its proximity to the Sun, the dawn glare will quickly blot out the planet named after the cleverest of the ancient gods.

Get out your binoculars or telescope to see even more

If you have a pair of binoculars or a telescope, you will also be able to see Neptune and Uranus in the confluence. The two icy giants are too faint to be seen with the naked eye but given a little added visual power green-tinged Uranus can be located between Venus and Mars, while blue Neptune will be between Jupiter and Saturn.

Not a morning person but still want something to see? In June, one of the oldest celestial objects, M13 globular cluster, will be at its optimal visibility. M13 is a collection of several hundred thousand stars thought to be around 12 billion years old, nearly as old as the universe itself. Its one of about 150 that orbit outside the Milky Way’s disk.

You’ll will need at least a pair of binoculars, it will look like a hazy spot, but a telescope would do you better to see the stars in the ancient cluster. M13 can be found in the Hercules Cluster, which will be high in the eastern sky for the first couple hours after dark in June.

How to find the M13 globular cluster

First you need to locate the bright stars Vega, the second brightest in the Northern Hemisphere sky and located just 25 light-years from Earth part of the constellation Lyra, and Arcturus, a red giant star that is the brightest star in the constellation Boötes.

Find the central part of Hercules known as “the Keystone” comprised of four stars. M13 will be about a third of the way between the two stars on the western side of the formation.

Need help finding the planets or stars?

If you are bad with directions or just need a little help, you can use the Google Sky Map app on your mobile to give you a hand. Beware though that for orptimal star gazing you need to acclimate your eyes to the dark. What’s known as “dark adaptation” can take anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes and the bright screen on you phone will mean you’ll need to start the process all over again.


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