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5 planets align in the eastern sky early Friday morning

Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 4:55 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - With the help of computer simulation from the Fleischman Planetarium, there’s a better understanding of what the eastern sky will look like beginning at 3:39 in the morning on Friday June 24, 2022.

“So, it’s going to start the show for us,” Paul McFarlane with the Planetarium tells us.

Saturn will appear first in the eastern sky. But it will then be accompanied by four additional planets; Jupiter, Mars, Venus and Mercury---all in a span of about 40 minutes.

At which point the sun will rise and ruin this planet alignment not often seen by the human eye.

“So in the nice warm hours we can head out and see a gorgeous line-up of these planets kind of a line-up along that ecliptic path,” says McFarlane. “And they are easy to see just with an unaided eye,” he says.

McFarlane says the last time this happened was 2004.

He says there will be a sliver of the moon to add to the cosmic conga line. But that shouldn’t have a significant impact on the view from here on earth.

He shows us a device that indicates just what’s going on in the heavens.

The planets, as they work their way around the sun, aren’t really aligned as we view them from earth. But they appear to be on the horizon even though they are millions of miles apart.

“Take a look at Jupiter because those four big Galilean moons,” McFarlane says of the largest planet in our solar system. “You can see them on either side sometimes. And when I was looking the other morning, got up at four I could see Ganymede off to the right in my view. And that was neat to see the largest moon in our solar system,” he says of the view with help from binoculars.

A decent telescope will show the rings of Saturn as well.

It’s dark enough outside at this time, McFarlane says shooting stars and satellites will come into view.

See it now he says, or wait until 2040 for this alignment to happen again.

The best time to catch the alignment is Friday, June 24, just before 4 in the morning. It will last about 40 minutes.

If you miss it, Saturday, Sunday and Monday morning are good days as well. But start times will be earlier each day after Friday.

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