6 planet parade to grace pre-dawn sky in August



In a rare astronomical event, six planets will appear to align in the sky near dawn, with three of them visible to the naked eye. This planetary alignment occurred June 3 and will occur again Aug. 28. While such phenomena are more common than they might seem, they offer a spectacular sight for sky-watchers.

To fully appreciate the alignment, a telescope is recommended, especially for those hoping to see Uranus and Neptune. The alignment will feature Jupiter, Mercury, Uranus, Mars, Neptune, and Saturn, accompanied by a crescent moon. 

While the alignment will be visible globally, the ideal date for viewing may vary depending on location. 

Planetary alignments occur because the planets orbit the Sun on a relatively flat plane known as the ecliptic. This plane results from the formation process of stars and their planetary systems. 

As stars form, the surrounding material coalesces into a rotating disk, from which planets emerge and remain aligned along the ecliptic plane. Occasionally, the planets align on the same side of the Sun, creating the appearance of a straight line from Earth’s perspective which is what will occur this week.

While six-planet alignments are noteworthy, they are not exceedingly rare. Alignments involving five or six planets, known as large alignments, occur with some frequency. A future large alignment is expected on January 18, 2025, in the pre-dawn hours.

A particularly spectacular event will occur on the evening of February 28, 2025, when all seven other planets will be visible in the sky simultaneously.

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