There's a planet parade happening next month: here's why NASA says you might miss it

  • Six planets will align in a planetary parade before sunrise on June 3, but only two will be visible to the naked eye.
  • Mercury, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune will likely be obscured by the rising sun or require a telescope to be seen.
  • Early risers can still catch a glimpse of a waning crescent moon, Mars and Saturn in the east.

On June 3, six planets will connect before sunrise in what is known as a planetary parade.

However, the spectacle will not be as striking as expected.

Only two planets will be visible to the naked eye.

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Here's what you need to know about this fairly common celestial event.

A girl looks through a telescope in Caracas, Venezuela on May 15, 2022. Before sunrise on June 3, six planets will connect in what is known as a planet parade, but only two planets will be visible to the naked eye. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

WHAT IS A PARADE OF PLANETS?

The planets of our solar system revolve around the sun at an angle. Occasionally several of them line up to the right of the Sun, so that they are visible along a narrow band of Earth's sky.

How often the phenomenon occurs depends on how many planets align and whether or not they are visible without binoculars or a telescope. Normally, there are a handful of planets in the night sky at any given time, although they may be hidden below the horizon or blocked by sunlight.

WHAT WILL BE VISIBLE DURING THE PLANET PARADE?

Unfortunately, this planetary parade of Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune won't offer much of a view.

“The sun is going to photobomb the parade,” says Ronald Gamble, a theoretical astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

Mercury and Jupiter will be too close to the horizon to be visible, blotted out by the rising sun. Uranus and Neptune can only be seen with a telescope, although Uranus may be too close to the Sun to be visible.

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Early risers can still look east and see a waning crescent moon in the lower left, followed by faintly red Mars and a pale yellow dot of Saturn. Both planets are visible early in the morning and will remain so for much of the summer.

WHAT ELSE CAN I SPOT IN THE SKY THIS SUMMER?

While June's parade of planets may not dazzle, the night sky still offers wonders to spot.

Summer offers beautiful weather for exploring the night sky with a star- or planet-viewing app, said Michelle Nichols of the Adler Planetarium in Chicago.

And the annual Perseid meteor shower is expected to peak in mid-August with fast streaks of light. Nichols recommends observing the shower away from city lights and letting your eyes adjust to the dark for optimal vision.

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