Throughout this month of June it will be possible to enjoy a wonderful spectacle of nature with the naked eye: a planetary alignment, which will allow to see, at the same time, almost all the planets of the solar system. It is an unusual phenomenon that can be seen from anywhere in Spain for a few days and until the beginning of July. Of course: it will be necessary to get up early, because the time in which this phenomenon occurs is shortly before sunrise.
Five are the planets that we can see already from this week. They are the following, in order from the horizon and ascending in height: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, according to the Royal Astronomical Observatory of Madrid. Namely, five planets in view (six, if we include our own)so only Uranus and Neptune would be missing from this ‘family photo’, too far away to be visible to the naked eye.
Although it is relatively common for two or three of these planets to coincide in the sky at the same time, it is not so common for five not to do so. In fact, it has not been seen since 2004 and it will not be possible to see it again until 2040, according to NASA. The space agency notes that the alignment of five planets only occurs once every 57 years on average.
It’s more, at the end of the month the Moon will also be incorporatedso it will really be worth getting up a little early to observe the phenomenon.
The planet that is most difficult to see is Mercury, and this for several reasons: its small size, its distance and, especially, its great proximity to the Sun, which makes it difficult to see it clearly due to the solar glare. In fact, as soon as the king star appears on the horizon, Mercury is no longer visible.
A planetary alignment occurs when, from our terrestrial perspective, several planets are seen in the same plane, forming a straight or almost straight line, as will be the case here. This does not necessarily mean that if we were to observe them from space, outside the Earth, they would appear in a straight line.
When to observe the alignment?
Although you can already appreciate these days, the best times to do it will be the last ten days of June and the first days of July. Keep in mind that as soon as the Sun rises, its light will ‘erase’ the planets, so you have to start the observation one hour before the sun rises.
Where to watch it?
Since some of the planets, such as Mercury and Venus, appear very low on the horizon (because they are the closest to the Sun and are always close to it), you have to be located either on the coast, with the sea in front, or in an elevated place without mountain ranges or appreciable elevations in sight. You have to look to the east and southeast.
What do you have to wear to observe it?
To see the alignment you do not have to bring any kind of instruments, since the five visible planets can be seen with the naked eye. Now, with a medium-aperture telescope (200 mm), Uranus and Neptune can also be seen, too far away to be seen with the naked eye.
Is there an app or website where you can see a simulation?
The Stellarium program, free, is a real wonder to be able to see what will be in the sky at each moment of the year. Just download it on your PC or mobile. On the computer, after downloading it, we must select our locality in the corresponding menu so that the program ‘knows’ where it is being observed from.
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