Parade of planets 2024: Ohio viewing guide to the 6-planet event June 3 – Akron Beacon Journal

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Get ready, skywatchers — another astronomical event will take place on June 3.

A planetary alignment, or a “planet parade” in casual language, will happen Monday, according to StarWalk.space, a stargazing and astronomical website. We’ll see six planets – Jupiter, Mercury, Uranus, Mars, Neptune and Saturn – grace our sky in the predawn hours.

How does the alignment happen?

The planets orbit the sun continuously in the solar system. The planets will slowly catch up to one another over time. Because they are all traveling along the same path, the ecliptic plane, as they pass Earth, it appears as though they are aligned, according to NASA. However, the alignment formation will be short-lived since each planet moves at different speeds, depending on its distance from the sun.

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Where to look for the planet alignment

Looking in the eastern sky, the planetary alignment will be visible almost everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere (weather permitting).

Four planets – Jupiter, Mercury, Mars and Saturn should be visible with the naked eye. But you’ll need high-powered binoculars to spot Uranus (which will be closest to Mercury) and Neptune.

Planet alignments aren’t extremely rare, especially with two to four planets. They occur several times each year. However, five or more planets aligning is less common.

The last planetary alignment seen in the Northern Hemisphere was on April 8.

Profiles of the six planets on parade

All eight planets in our solar system have some very interesting traits. Here’s a quick look at the planets aligning on June 3:

Northern lights, ‘devil comet,’ solar eclipse and meteor showers all take to the sky in 2024

The planetary alignment isn’t the only celestial show this year. So far, 2024 has brought a total solar eclipse and a visit from the “devil comet.”

Also, the northern lights have shown overhead and a couple of meteor showers have shot across the sky, with another coming soon.

The Perseid meteor shower is always the big show of the year, according to NASA. This year, the Perseids will peak from Aug. 12 to 13 with 50 to 100 meteors per hour. Also, there will be no moonlight this year to spoil the view that night, Bill Cooke, of the Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, tells NASA’s Watch the Skies blog.

And the northern lights, which lit up Ohio night skies on May 10, could make a comeback.

Northern lights seen in Portage Lakes Friday night heading into Saturday morning, May 11, 2024.

“The May 10th superstorm may have been just the first of several magnificent displays we experience between now and 2026,” astronomer Tony Phillips, of SpaceWeather.com, told USA TODAY.

The sun is entering it solar maximum, Phillips said, meaning more sunspots and solar flares ejecting particles. When those particles hit the earth’s magnetic field, they push the auroras away from the poles. A strong enough solar storm, like the one May 10, can push the aurora borealis into the United States and further south.

Predicting them is the real challenge, USA TODAY reports. Even the best forecasts can only accurately be made a few days or even hours in advance.

When will the planets align again?

Here’s when StarWalk.space predicts the next six- and seven-planetary alignments will happen:

June 3: Six planets – Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

Aug. 28: Six planets – Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

Jan. 18, 2025:Six planets – Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune

Feb. 28, 2025: Seven planets – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. (The last time all seven planets aligned was on April 8 during the total solar eclipse).

Aug. 29, 2025:Six planets – Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

SOURCE: StarWalk.space, NASA, Astronomy.com and USA TODAY research

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