The solar system gets its ducks in a row – Sky & Telescope

The five bright planets fan out in order of their distance from the sun across the sky from dawn until early July. One of the best mornings to see them will be June 24, when a striking crescent moon joins the crew. You can start earlier – 60 to 90 minutes before sunrise – to spot Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. To add Venus and Mercury, which nestle low in the solar glow, you’ll need to observe closer to sunrise. Use this sunrise calculator to plan your outing. As the Moon passes, we will see successive conjunctions or pulses. The moon appears near Jupiter on June 21; Mars on June 22, Venus on June 26 and Mercury on June 27.

Like a peacock spreading its feathers, the five brightest planets in the solar system will unfurl in a magnificent spectacle at dawn until early July. Even more amazing they will be the right order Exit from the sun beginning with Mercury at the eastern horizon followed by Venus, Mars, Jupiter and ending at Saturn. Standing under the spread, you will look like you are looking out the spaceship earth window at our place in the cosmic order.

Planet line 1921
The most compact line of planets in order of distance in over a century occurred in November 1921 when it spanned an arc just 44° long. During the current alignment, the planets were closest at 91° on June 3, but Mercury was not visible visually at that time because it was too faint (magnitude 2.3).

This rare event occurred for the last time in the morning sky in December 2004. With regard to the evening sky, we saw similar planetary lines in October 1997 and September 1995, but the extension of mercury to these times was no more than 10°, limiting sight to clear vision. attentive observers in tropical latitudes. For American skywatchers, the last major similar broadcast was in July 1957. Ouch, I was barely four years old!

I encourage you to get up early at least one morning for a look. Invite friends. Bring children. There will be multiple viewing options, but both better opportunities June 24 (described above) and June 26, when Venus and the thin-filament Moon meet in conjunction. While not a once-in-a-lifetime event, the next opportunity won’t be until March 2041. Call me impatient, but I’m not making any assumptions about the future.

portrait of planets
Meet the celebrities. Efrain Morales from Puerto Rico created this group portrait of the planets, including the sun, taken through his telescope. Yes, Uranus and Neptune will also be there – more details below.
Efrain Morales

Alignment is essentially a naked eye event – the only requirements are clear to partly cloudy skies and a clear east-northeast horizon. That said, I strongly recommend that you bring a pair of binoculars to help you unearthed Mercury, which will hover in the solar glow a few degrees above the horizon for observers of Latitudes Mi-Nord and Mid-Sud . Assuming a clear view and an air without mist, I think you will see Mercury without optical help. But a rescue window will guarantee that you will not be short-circuited on a planet. The other four will be much easier to spot.

I took this photo of the coast of Lake Superior in Duluth, Minnesota, at 4:15 a.m. on Friday, June 17. Four planets are visible with Mercury a little too low to show through the horizon haze. Its visibility should improve in the coming week. Details: 16mm lens, full sensor.
bob the king

You’ll want to be out a bit early to orient yourself and find a comfortable place to set up for a view. An hour and 15 minutes before local sunrise is perfect. A lake, farmer’s field, or high vantage point with an unobstructed eastern horizon makes an ideal location. Venus will be brilliant and low, with Mercury about to go up at that time. The five planets will be best visible, depending on your latitude, from about 1 hour to 40 minutes before sunrise. Since this weather is critical to planning, use this sunrise calculator to find out when the sun rises for your location.

Solar System June 24, 2022
In this divine view from Earth’s North Pole, you can see how the planets unfold through the solar system on June 24.
JPL Horizons with Bob King Additions

photography tips

Since many of us will want to shoot the duration, you may want to do some reconnaissance beforehand to include suitable foreground scenery. On June 20, the pack extends over about 102 ° from sky, increasing at 116 ° at the end of the month. For a full-frame DSLR, you’ll need at least a 12-14mm lens – with horizontal fields of view of 104° and 112°, respectively – to squeeze them all in. Crushed sensor cameras require an even shorter focal length. Since these objectives are not cheap, a better alternative would be to take several photos of the scene with a standard objective and to combine them in a single image using an imagery program like Paint (supplied with Windows 10/11), Mac OS Photos, or Photoshop. Check YouTube for videos showing how it’s done.

Your creative hand will also be necessary during post-processing due to the great difference in lighting between the darker southern sky, where Mars, Jupiter and Saturn resident, and the luminous belly of the eastern horizon, where the inner planets.

All planets by size
This chart-map shows all the planets (except the Moon) according to their relative size and their appearance in a small telescope on June 24, 2022.
Stellarium with additions by Bob King

See all planet

Don’t forget to include Earth in the alignment! You can do this by using the waning moon as a proxy. Or just look around and take in the scenery. If you’re a completist, you’ll also want to research Uranus and Neptune. They’re up there too, even if they screw up the order. Both are visible in binoculars or a small telescope. And while we are there, include 4 Vesta, a representative of the main asteroid belt. The cards below provide the positions of these three additional objects.

Comme ces cinq minuscules lumières démontrent magnifiquement la planéité essentielle du système solaire. Looking up, you can practically see the ecliptic etched into the sky. When pointed out, even a neophyte will quickly grasp the “shape” of our neighborhood and the place of the Earth within it. And while flat earthlings will argue with you to the death about our planet’s sphericity or lack thereof, at least we can all agree this month that the solar system is as flat as a thin-crust pizza.

Vesta locator
Vesta, shining at magnitude 6.7, hangs in Aquarius near Tau (τ) Aquarii between Saturn and Jupiter. North is in all charts. Stars are shown for magnitude 7.5.
Stellarium with additions by Bob King
Neptune locator
Neptune barely moves during the viewing period because it is motionless on June 28. Stars of magnitude 8.5.
Stellarium with additions by Bob King
Uranus locator
Uranus lodges in Aries just above the head of Cetus at magnitude 5.8. It also moves slowly and will be easy to follow. Stars shown at magnitude 6.5.
Stellarium with additions by Bob King



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