Crescent moon joins 'planetary parade': How to watch rare conjunction
Star gazers are in for a treat as the rare planetary alignment that has been making headlines this month is set to be joined by a special guest. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn have lined up in a 'planetary parade' that will not happen again until 2040. And today, the crescent moon will join them for a unique planetary procession.
Why does this story matter?
- We saw the strawberry supermoon earlier this month, the longest day of the year (summer solstice) on June 21, and now we are in luck to witness a rare planetary alignment.
- Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn have aligned in an arc formation for the first time in 18 years. Today, they will be joined by the moon for a truly celestial view.
Everything to know about the 'planetary parade'
This month, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn have lined up from left to right in the southeastern sky in the order in which they orbit the sun. Today, the crescent moon will slot in between Venus and Mars, almost as a substitute for Earth in this planetary conjunction. The arrangement of these planets last happened in 2004 and won't happen again until 2040.
How to watch the 'planetary parade'?
This alignment will be best visible around 4am. Just find a high ground and look toward the eastern horizon. Hopefully, the clouds will not spoil your party. The 'planetary parade' will be visible with the naked eye but you can carry good binoculars or a telescope if you want to look closer at each individual planet.
How and when will these planets appear?
Saturn will be the first of the five planets to become visible, rising above the eastern horizon just before midnight. The next to rise will be Jupiter at around 1am. It will shine super bright. In fact, it will be more than twice as bright as Sirius, the brightest star in the sky. Mars, with its distinctive reddish hue, will appear at around 1:37am.
Venus will be the brightest of them all
At around 3am, Venus will appear. It will be the brightest planet in this conjunction. Mercury, the smallest planet in our solar system, will be the fifth and last to join the planetary parade. It will become visible around 3:40am. The celestial arc will appear for about an hour until the sunrise washes all the planets from the sky.