Image for article titled When to See a Fuckton of Planets Align in the Sky This Month

Photo: Zhuravlev Andrey (Shutterstock)

If you like planets (and who doesn’t these days?), the solar system has a gift just for you. Beginning on April 17 and continuing through July, Saturn, Mars, Venus, and Jupiter will be lined up diagonally in the pre-dawn sky and visible without a telescope or binoculars. Later in their run, they’ll be joined by the moon and Mercury.

To see these relatively rare celestial alignments, you’ll need to get up early or stay up late: The best time to view the planet-line is at about 45 minutes before sunrise. The planets will be in the southeastern part of the sky in the U.S., low on the horizon. You’ll be able to tell they’re planets because they give off a steady light instead of twinkling like stars.

But wait, there’s more!

Things heat up even more, cosmically speaking, around April 23. That’s when the moon joins the super-group, appearing to the right and above Saturn until it slips out of view on the 29th. Don’t worry: The moon will be back in line again starting on May 21.

While you’re gazing at the sky at 5 a.m. on a spring morning, please take a moment to consider how cool it is to see four entire planets and the moon, all at once, while standing on a fifth planet. It’s mind-blowing, especially if you’re high.

But wait again, because there’s even more more!

An “I think it’s a triple-rainbow” event begins on June 17. That’s when fashionably late Mercury will join the kick-line so us puny humans can see Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter at the same time, lined-up from east to west, in order of their distance from the sun. I’ve heard they’re going to be naked, too. The show will continue until July, when temperamental Mercury dips below the horizon, probably because of something Jupiter said.

The science behind planetary alignments

Planetary alignments are irregular occurrences that don’t happen very often—the last five-planet alignment was in 2020—because each planet takes a different amount of time to complete an orbit, ranging from speedy Mercury’s trip around the sun in only 88 Earth days to Saturn, which takes 29 Earth years to complete its orbit. Their schedules don’t sync up very often.

Despite what your lying eyes tell you, the planets aren’t actually in a line during a planetary alignment. They just look that way because of our viewpoint on Earth. If you were transported to the surface of the sun at a time of planetary alignment, you’d be able to see that the planets are not aligned from that viewpoint before you burned to death.

Despite what astrologers believe, the alignment of the planets will have no effect on Earth in any tangible way. It’s just a pattern humans noticed.

Can we go even deeper?

Wouldn’t it be cool if all eight planets looked like they were in a line in the sky? Maybe, but Science says it’s never going to happen. In 2854, all the planets will appear to be within a 30-degree area, though, which is kind of cool, but maybe not worth the wait.



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