See a rare alignment of all the planets in the night sky (2024)

A grand celestial reunion is due in Earth’s skies throughout June. Sky-watchers will get a rare chance to see all the major planets in our solar system bunched together—with the moon joining the festivities, too, from June 17 to June 27.

This rare alignment includes the five planets easily spotted with the naked eye: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Each is bright enough to be seen even in light-polluted city skies, with brilliant Venus being the brightest and Mercury the faintest. Our closest planets will appear to be arranged across the sky in the same order as their distance from the sun.

Astronomers call these planetary close encounters conjunctions. Having two or three planets huddled together is not all that rare, but the last time we saw a conjunction the five brightest planets was in December 2004.

The more distant Uranus and Neptune will also cluster in the same area, though the two ice giants will be more challenging to spot, requiring the use of binoculars. Scan between Venus and Mars to find green-tinged Uranus, and blue Neptune can be found between Jupiter and Saturn in the sky.

This planetary alignment can be glimpsed by the vast majority of the world’s population, but some will be better positioned than others. For those in the northern latitudes, above cities like New York and London, the planet closest to the sun, Mercury, will be near the horizon and may be washed out by the glare of dawn. In these regions, the other planets will also hug the eastern horizon, making it a bit of a challenge to easily see all the planets.

As the month progresses, however, Mercury will appear higher in the sky, making it easier to spot. For observers even farther north, like those across Scandinavia and in northern Alaska where the sun never sets at this time of the year, the planets won’t be visible at all.

The best views will be centred around the tropics and in the Southern Hemisphere, where the planets will rise higher in the predawn sky. But no matter where you are, the best recommendation is to seek out an unobstructed view of the eastern horizon about one hour to 30 minutes before local sunrise.

The panorama will be particularly impressive because the planets will appear huddled close together. And if you miss this spectacle, you’ll have to wait until 2040 to get another chance.

The moon lights the way

To find the planets, viewers need only look to the bright crescent moon. Starting on June 17, when it will appear near Saturn, our natural satellite will serve as a guidepost, posing with each planet from one day to the next.

Stand-out dates include June 18, when the moon will be closest to Saturn, and June 20, when the moon pairs with Neptune. June 21 sees the moon joining Jupiter, and June 22 has the moon meeting with Mars. The moon pairs with Uranus on June 24, and keen-eyed sky-watchers will also notice that it will appear exactly halfway between Venus and Mars. On June 26 the moon will have an eye-catching close encounter with the brightest planet in the sky, Venus, and then finally round out its visits with Mercury, on June 27.

A celestial traffic jam

While this parade of planets will appear to be huddled together in one small part of the sky, the distant worlds are of course spread out across a vast expanse of space, separated from each other by millions of miles. It’s our vantage point on Earth that makes them seem so closely positioned.

This grand sky show is easy to see with the unaided eyes, but a pair of steadily held binoculars will grant you better views. Train your glass on cream-coloured Jupiter and it will reveal its four largest moons. Small telescopes reveal all the worlds as disks, bringing into focus details like the cloud bands on Jupiter and Saturn’s famous rings.

Uranus and Neptune are both significantly fainter than the rest of the planets, so you’ll likely need binoculars just to glimpse them as greenish –blue, fuzzy points of light. But a small telescope will begin to reveal more details of these ice giants at the edge of the solar system—an incredible sight considering Uranus is more than 1.8 billion miles from Earth, while Neptune is nearly 2.8 billion miles away.

Get your views in now, as the planetary party won’t last long. Over the next few months, the planets will wander away from each other, spreading out across the sky. By the end of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, both Venus and Saturn will have bowed out of the morning sky altogether.

Clear skies!

See a rare alignment of all the planets in the night sky (2024)


How rare is it for all the planets to align? ›

Mutual alignments, when one planet overlies another as seen from Earth, occur about once every 30 years. A rough calculation shows that an alignment of all seven planets as seen from Earth is therefore likely to occur once in 22 billion years, i.e. longer than the 14-billion-year age of the universe.

What is the rare line up of planets? ›

Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Uranus will appear to be in a near-straight line, according to Star Walk Space. The last time multiple planets lined up in a similar pattern was in early June 2022, when Saturn, Mars, Jupiter, and Venus aligned across the sky.

What is it called when all the planets align? ›

Planetary alignment is a term used in astronomy to describe the event when several planets gather in a small sky area. This event may also be colloquially called a “planetary parade.” The next alignment of the five planets is on April 20, 2024. The planets will be visible just before sunrise.

What does it look like when all the planets align? ›

When we talk about “planetary alignment,” we're not suggesting that the planets line up in a perfect straight line in space. Rather, we are usually referring to a celestial event wherein multiple planets appear close together in the sky from our perspective on Earth. This phenomenon is known as a “conjunction.”

What planets are visible in April 2024? ›

In late April, the two bright planets Mars and Saturn will shine above the eastern horizon every morning before sunrise. Monday morning, April 8 offers an opportunity to see the distant and faint planet Neptune when it will be positioned just to the upper right (or celestial west) of Mars.

What year will all the planets align? ›

If you consider the eight planets aligned if they are in the same 180-degree-wide patch of sky, the next time that will happen is May 6, 2492, according to Christopher Baird, an associate professor of physics at West Texas A&M University.

How often do the 5 planets align? ›

While infrequent, planetary alignments are not that rare. The last time all five planets could be spotted together was June 2022, according to Axios. Beck Andrew Salgado, writing for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, also noted that these events tend to happen every two years or so.

What happens when the 5 planets align? ›

There was a five-planet lineup last summer and there's another one in June, with a slightly different makeup. This kind of alignment happens when the planets' orbits line them up on one side of the sun from Earth's perspective, Cooke said.

What is the rarest planet in the universe? ›

10 of the weirdest exoplanets ever discovered
  • HD 189773b – where it rains glass sideways.
  • TOI 849 b – a world stripped bare.
  • WASP-12b – puffed up planet in a death spiral.
  • Rogue worlds: exoplanets on the loose.
  • TrES-2b – the darkest exoplanet.
  • KELT-9b – the hottest exoplanet.
  • HR 5183b – the planet with the strangest orbit.
Jan 4, 2024

What planets will align in 2024? ›

On April 4, 2024, four planets will align on the same side of the sun as Earth. According to Star Walk, an astronomy app and developer, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Neptune will be visible. While full planetary alignments are rare, the alignment or three to six planets happens often.

How often do all 8 planets align? ›

So, on average, the three inner planets line up every 39.6 years. The chance that Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune will all be within this arc as well on any given pass is 1 in 100 raised to the 5th power, so on average the eight planets line up every 396 billion years.

Will all 9 planets ever align? ›

While there are certainly headlines about it from time to time, full planetary alignment is actually virtually impossible, and even seeing all the planets on the same side of the sun in the sky is incredibly uncommon.

When was the last time 5 planets aligned? ›

The last five-planet alignment was visible in June 2022.

What would happen if all 8 planets aligned? ›

Absolutely nothing would happen. The impacts are negligible. If you need evidence, there was a significant alignment in 1962 and we are still here.

How rare is it for 5 planets to align? ›

According to popular science, this specific alignment of planets is particularly rare and the next alignment featuring this many planets won't be until 2040. Planetary alignments in general are not exceptionally rare, especially when fewer planets are involved, and they usually happen every two years or so.

Will all the planets align in 2024? ›

In 2024, there will be a total of four planetary alignments. All of them, except for the April 4 alignment will be large alignments. On April 20, there will be a planetary gathering of five planets: Venus, Mercury, Neptune, Mars and Saturn.

When did all 8 planets align last? ›

Perhaps the most celebrated recent alignment took place on Dec. 24, 2022, when all eight planets lined up in a horizon-to-horizon arc. This yet again, gave rise to tales of gravitational destruction. But NASA has a ready answer to that.


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