In case you missed the Parade of Planets with the Moon this past weekend, here is a beautiful record of the event. This photo was taken on June 24 at 4:35 a.m. (Plus, see links to our June and July 2022 sky guides at the bottom of this page.)
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Previous Article Published on June 22, 2022:
Dear readers, we are pleased—and a bit stunned—to announce that our “Parade of Planets” post reached nearly 10 million people over the course of the last 10 days. Thank you for taking the time to share this rare astronomical event with your friends, families, and classrooms around the world. Many of you voiced questions, so we wanted to take a moment to provide answers. We consulted our esteemed astronomer, Joe Rao, to give you accurate information that you can trust. Read on to learn when and where to witness this special moment!
What is a Parade of Planets?
Catch a glimpse of a rare sky event beginning on Midsummer morning (and occurring again on the mornings of June 25 and 26). All five “naked-eye” planets—along with the Moon—will be visible in the sky at once! To view, simply step outside at approximately 40 minutes before your local sunrise. (Look east to south.)
The most interesting part? They will be arranged in their true order from the Sun: Mercury, Venus, the Moon, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn! The last time that a similarly compact parade of planets graced our skies was in 1864! (These planets were visible in 2020 but not in this particular order.)
Your Frequently asked questions
1) What time is best to look for the Parade of Planets?
Look 40 minutes before sunrise on the morning of June 24, 2022. (However, this planetary alignment—including the Moon—will be visible through the weekend at approximately the same time before sunrise each day until Sunday, June 26.) Look up the sunrise time for you area.
2) 40 or 45 minutes before sunrise? How specific is the timing?
Each planet will emerge on its own from the eastern horizon, beginning with Saturn at around 5 hours before sunrise. Then the others will follow. By 40 minutes before sunrise, Mercury (the last of the five planets to join the parade) will be visible just above the horizon. They will appear across the sky along a line from lower left (Mercury, east-northeast) to upper right (Saturn, due south).
3) Is this event only visible in the Northern Hemisphere?
No, it will be visible just about everywhere on the planet. In the Southern Hemisphere, all five planets will be visible about 40 minutes before sunrise, but instead of looking along a diagonal line from lower left to upper right, the planets will be oriented along a line almost perpendicular to the east-northeast horizon—going almost straight up! In fact, the array is more favorably placed for far-southerners (Cape Town, Santiago, Sydney, Auckland) compared to those living in the Northern Hemisphere. Mercury, for instance, appears higher above the horizon “down there” as opposed to those who are at mid-northern latitudes.4
4) Which US states or cities will have the best view?
Longitudinal differences (east to west locations) are about the same, but Latitude is a factor. The farther south you are, the higher up in the sky the planets will appear. So, in the United States, a place like Miami has a slight edge over cities like Chicago or Seattle.
5) Will the planets be in a straight line?
If you were to imagine a smooth arc stretching from Mercury to Saturn, the other three planets would not be positioned exactly on that arc, but pretty close to it.
6) Will the planets look like bright stars?
The planets indeed resemble stars (of varying brightness). Unlike stars, planets seldom twinkle. Over a span of days or weeks they appear to wander in the heavens—as opposed to the stars which remain rooted in their positions.
7) Do you need a telescope?
No, no telescope is necessary to see the Parade of Planets.
8) Will Saturn’s rings be visible?
Saturn’s rings are not visible with the naked eye. If you have binoculars magnifying 25x you might be able to pick them out.
9) Only on Friday, June 24? How about over the weekend?
You’ll be able to see the alignment of the planets until the end of June. However, the Moon will be positioned between Mars and Venus Friday through Sunday morning. On Sunday, the Moon will be right next to Venus making for a beautiful celestial tableau at about 45 minutes before sunrise.
Do you plan on watching? Let us know in the comments below!