JUNE 21, 2022
BOSTON — We are in for quite a treat in the nighttime sky over the next few weeks! It is something right out of a middle school textbook.
For the first time in 18 years (2004), we will be able to see five planets, essentially lined up, in the east-southeast sky. And even more amazing, the planets will be in the order of their distance from the sun! From left to right (or better yet, east to southeast)…Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. So cool!
Even more good news, the view won’t change much over the next few weeks. So, if you miss a night or just have bad weather, no problem! Planets move relatively slow across the Earth’s nighttime sky so there won’t be too much change from night to night through early July.
There is one catch though…you gotta get up early, REAL early. The perfect view will occur about an hour before sunrise, which this time of year corresponds to just after 4 a.m.
Some suggestions on how to get the best view:
- Pick a night with low humidity (haze) and obviously little or no cloud cover
- Pick a spot with a clear view (no buildings or trees) on the east and southeast horizon
- Pick a spot with as little artificial light pollution as possible
No telescope needed! As long as you have a clear view, you can see the whole thing with the naked eye.
Mercury will be the toughest to see being the smallest of the planets and the lowest on the horizon. However, given they are all lined up, I would recommend finding Venus (very bright) and looking diagonally down to the left to find the smaller, dimmer Mercury.
As an added bonus, the Moon will also be hanging out near the planetary lineup this week! Early Tuesday morning it will be just below and to the right of Jupiter, around 4 a,m. Perhaps the most camera-worthy moment will come early Friday morning. The crescent Moon will fall perfectly in line with the five planets that morning, between Venus and Mars.
Weather-wise Tuesday morning may be the best viewing of the week. There is still hope that the clouds and rain on Thursday might clear out in time for Friday morning, stay tuned for updates on that.
The planets won’t appear in this order again until the year 2040! So don’t miss it!