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May 28, 2024

Six planets will align Monday. Here's what can be seen with the naked eye

Before sunrise that morning, observers could be able to spot Mars and Saturn as part of the 'planetary parade.'

Nature Planets
planet alignment june Craig Bailey/USA TODAY NETWORK

On Monday, six planets will line up in the early-morning sky to form a 'planetary parade,' but only a few of them may be visible without a telescope. Above, in 2022 a five-planet alignment as seen from Florida.

Six planets will line up in the early-morning sky on Monday, June 3, and eagle-eyed stargazers may be able to get a glimpse of at least a portion of the spectacle.

Jupiter, Mercury, Uranus, Mars, Neptune and Saturn will be aligned — due to their orbits bringing them to the same side of the sun — creating what the Weather Channel refers to as a "planetary parade." To see most of the planets, you'll need binoculars or a telescope aimed at the eastern horizon before sunrise. If the weather cooperates, the East Coast would be the best viewing area for the event.

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The planets in our solar system continuously orbit the sun at different speeds and distances. They frequently move relative to each other in our night sky, and occasionally their paths seem to cross. This leads to a short-lived alignment, also known as conjunction. During a "planetary parade," the planets do not form an actual straight line in space, due to their elliptical-shaped orbits, but they appear to form a line from some angles on Earth.

Several times each year, planet alignments involving two-to-four may occur. It is less common to have five or more planets align. A rare five-planet alignment – involving Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, all of which can be seen with the naked eye – happened in June 2022. The upcoming celestial phenomenon follows a partial solar eclipse in April and flashy solar storms earlier in May. But this latest planetary parade may not be so easily spotted, at least to the naked eye.

What will be visible during the planetary alignment?

On Monday, the sun is predicted to rise at 5:33 a.m. People trying to see the alignment should begin their observations at least one hour before the sunrise.

Of the planets that will be aligned, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars are observable without a telescope. Neptune, which lies at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles from the sun, is much too faint to be perceived without binoculars or a telescope. Uranus is visible to the naked eye only under very dark skies with no light pollution. On Monday, Uranus rises about an hour before sunrise, so it could be drowned out by the morning twilight.

On Monday, Mercury and Jupiter, which usually can be seen by the naked eye, will be very close to the position of the sun in the sky and therefore may be hidden by its glow, according to Both will rise about a half hour before sunrise and will be "exceedingly low to the east-northeast horizon." A pair of binoculars and no obstructions could potentially allow observers to see them.

Saturn will rise in the east-southeast around 2 a.m., and will appear to the unaided eye as a bright light glowing with a yellow-white color. Its rings cannot be seen without a telescope. Mars should be plainly visible to the naked eye, glowing with a bright orange light around 4 a.m. about 6 degrees to the right of the moon. Speaking of the moon, the crescent moon will "steal the show," according to Forbes, hanging low in the eastern sky that morning near Mars and Saturn.

"So, if you step outside at around 3:30 or 4 a.m. on Monday morning, don't expect to be awed by the sight of a planet parade," skywatching columnist Joe Rao wrote for "What you will likely see is a crescent moon and a bright orange 'star' shining to its right (Mars) and farther off to the right will be another relatively bright 'star' glowing with a yellowish-white hue (Saturn)."

Not to worry if you miss this alignment or the weather interferes, as the forecast in Philly calls for a partly cloudy sky. Alignments of the same six planets should be visible again in the pre-dawn hours of Aug. 28, 2024, and Jan. 18, 2025, according to Science Alert. On Feb. 28, 2025, a full planetary alignment of seven planets will appear in the sky.

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