UK stargazers are being urged to keep a look out as a rare seven planet alignment is set to take place tomorrow.
The weather is set to turn from a series of sunny and hot days into more dreary days of rain, so why not perk yourself up with a spot of stargazing?
Tomorrow (24 June), seven planets of the Solar System are set to form in a line in the sky - an arrangement often termed by astronomers as a 'planetary parade'.
Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus will all align tomorrow for the first time in 18 years.
Across the sky, they will span from the east to the south. Although, in the southern latitude they will span from north to east.
However, only Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn will be visible to the naked eye from Earth, making only five of the seven planets appear in a line.
Observers will see five planets of the Solar System aligned in the sky: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. In fact, this will be a seven-planet alignment as Neptune and Uranus will also join the celestial show. pic.twitter.com/tzLaEb6Qlu— Nagendra Ramala (@RamalaNagendra) June 23, 2022
For the best chances of seeing the special alignment, UK gazers are advised to get up an hour before the crack of dawn in order to catch a glimpse.
Or if you fancy taking a trip down to an area in the southern Hemisphere, the planets are noted as climbing higher and rising earlier there.
This means you'd be able to nab a clearer view.
🪐 Planets align. It’s fine. What is time? Does that even rhyme?— NASA (@NASA) June 19, 2022
Look up starting tonight to see Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn spread out and appear to line up in the sky. The crescent moon joins them on June 23: https://t.co/36QwkIxfaw pic.twitter.com/uh5V9W2q45
This alignment is even more special due to another sighting which is set to take place and the waning crescent Moon is set to be visible inbetween Venus and Mars.
However, the moon won't appear in alignment with the planets.
Astronomer and founder of Stargazing London, Tom Kerss, told The Sun: "It's well worth setting an early alarm and peering out from your garden, or any south/east-facing window or balcony available to you.
NOT SEEN SINCE 1864! A rare 5-planet alignment + the crescent moon will be visible an hour before sunrise for the next 3 mornings. Set your alarms for 4:30 am and look east-southeast just above the horrizon! (For Mercury, you might need binoculars.) Should be quite a show. @wews pic.twitter.com/d305M9xOZN— The REAL Mark Johnson (@MarkJWeather) June 22, 2022
"The planets are easy to pick out even in the relatively light summer sky. Unlike stars, they don't appear to twinkle, and Mars is noticeably orange, whereas Saturn is faintly golden.
"The inner planets, Mercury and Venus, don't get very high above the horizon before sunrise with Mercury, in particular, climbing less than eight degrees before it fades out of view.
"To appreciate them, you'll need a very low - preferably flat - eastern horizon, free from obstructions like trees or buildings. It may be worth scoping out a good viewing spot ahead of time to improve your chances."
The timelines are very tight to see the planetary alignment.— Mike Gibbs🏳️🌈🇺🇦 (@Mikeggibbs) June 22, 2022
The sun erases the planets by around 6am
That gives you very little time to orient yourself if you're a beginner stargazing amateur like me. I only got to see 2 planets BUT the daylight moon stepped in. pic.twitter.com/fdJTdrECTI
Amateur astronomer and science communicator Kevin Walsh added that you'll be able to see the phenomenon is 'you look due East about 45 minutes before sunrise'.
"For those in the North East of the UK, this will be around 3:30 a.m, and the South West around 4:00 a.m.
"Mercury will appear closest to the horizon around East North East and we will have around 30-40 minutes of visibility before Twilight interferes. Saturn will appear in the sky towards the South East," he said.
It's important to note that the planets don't actually form in a perfect line, their formation just appears in such a way because of our perspective on Earth.
The last time the seven planets aligned in such a way was in 2004 and the next time they will align in such a parade is predicted as being 8 September, 2040.
"The alignments like the one in 1962 and in 2000 are fairly common. The five naked-eye planets cluster together in the sky within a circle 25 degrees or less in diameter once every 57 years, on average," NASA Science stated.
So don't hang about. Grab your telescope, set your alarm clock and get out before dawn tomorrow in time to see the planets out on parade.
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