A wonderful parade is lining up the heavens this week. Four planets–Jupiter, Venus, Mars and Saturn–will align in the same ecliptic plane of our solar system, making them seem as if they are in a straight line across the eastern horizon.
For added pleasure this week, the moon joins the fun and steps into the Conga line.
To view the lineup, stargazers will need to set their eyes on the eastern horizon just before dawn, between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. Survey the celestial body early, as the sun will quickly wash out the planets from view.
The alignment has been building for weeks and didn't just develop overnight. Venus, Mars and Saturn have been neighbors in the night sky since March. Jupiter joined the party in mid-April. The moon tags along for the last week of April.
Mercury will join the parade in the middle of June, making five visible planets.
According to an expert interviewed by Live Science, "These planetary alignments are not rare, but they’re not regularly occurring, either. The last time five planets aligned in the night sky was in 2020, preceded by alignments in 2016 and 2005."
So how do you identify the planets in the night sky?
As reported in Live Science, "Mars will be an orange dot below and to the left of Saturn, while Venus will be a brighter light below and to the left of Mars. Jupiter will be lowest and left-most in the sky."
The planets will not twinkle in the night sky, setting them apart from the surrounding stars.
Experts say you won't need a telescope or a set of binoculars to see the alignment. All you need are your eyes and a clear sky.
For a list of other celestial events happening this year, check out our 2022 calendar.