Our nearest neighbors will all be visible with the naked eye for the next few weeks. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn will be lined up in order. The moon even takes Earth’s place in the order later in the month. Uranus and Neptune are technically there too, but you’ll need a telescope to see those. You also have to be willing to get up just before dawn. Plus have a view of the low Eastern sky and cooperative weather.
Unlike some astronomical phenomena, you have multiple chances for this one. The planets will be lined up until late June 2022. Mercury is hardest to see since it’s small and closest to the sun’s light on the horizon. The best opportunity to spot all five comes on June 24, about an hour before sunrise.
A projection from Sky & Telescope (above) gives a great view of what you’re likely to see. Even if your horizon looks a bit different. The version from NASA (below), that we first saw in The Washington Post, doesn’t include Mercury.
Conjunctions, where two or more planets look close to each other from Earth, happen regularly enough. Perhaps you saw Jupiter and Saturn next to each other back in December 2020. But all five of our closest planetary neighbors lined up in order only happens every 18 years. The last one was in 2004 and the next one will be in 2040. In April and May 2022, four of the planets (not Mercury) passed by each other in various combinations on their way to the current lineup.
No news on where Pluto is these days. Or Planet Nine, for that matter.
Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She is not a morning person. Melissa also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth.