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The expert explains what can actually be seen in the sky

The expert explains what can actually be seen in the sky

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A total of six planets can be seen in a “planetary display” in the sky on the morning of June 3. What is it and what is behind it?

FRANKFURT – After the total solar eclipse on April 8 and the stunning northern lights over Germany in mid-May, interest in celestial phenomena has become enormous. The alleged “parade of planets” that will be visible in the morning sky on June 3, 2024 comes at just the right time. Several media outlets reported that the planets Jupiter, Mercury, Uranus, Mars, Neptune and Saturn line up nicely in the morning sky. This is not an error, but you will not be able to see it with the naked eye. There are several reasons for this.

With Mercury and Jupiter, because of the timing, you cannot see the two planets even though they are there. By the time the two climbed the horizon shortly before five in the morning, the sky was already so bright that you couldn't even see the two planets. “Then the light will be so bright that you can read the newspaper without any problems,” says Uwe Pilz of the VdS Association of Friends of the Stars (VdS) when asked. fr.de from IPPEN.MEDIA. From an Earthly perspective, both planets are currently close to the Sun, rising only shortly before it and its light fading.

“Planet Parade” on June 3: Mars can already be seen in the sky

It makes two fewer planets to admire in the so-called “planetary view.” It continues with Uranus. It is actually in the sky on the morning in question, slightly more easterly and higher than Jupiter and Mercury. This means: it rises when the sun has not yet lit the sky, but it will remain invisible. At least not with the naked eye. To observe the planet Uranus, you always need binoculars or a telescope – it is about three billion kilometers from Earth.

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The planets often line up in the sky – this is due to the formation of the solar system. (Archive photo) © IMAGO/Alan Dyer / VWPics

The fourth planet in the “planetary display” is Mars. It is actually the first planet in the series that can be seen with the naked eye in the sky on June 3. However, it currently glows very dimly, so it's not a special sight worth waking up early to see. Because to see it you have to look east before sunrise. You can find Mars by looking for the Moon, which is in its last quarter on June 3 and can only be seen as a very narrow crescent. Slightly to the right of the Moon is a red glowing “star” – Mars.

In the 'parade of planets' on June 3, many planets are 'invisible'

Meanwhile, a little to the east, the planet Neptune is high in the sky. However, the same applies to it as it does to Uranus: the planet can only be seen with a telescope – and never with the naked eye, not even as part of a “planetary view”.

The last planet to be seen in the Planetary Parade on the morning of June 3 is Lord of the Rings' Saturn. It is located approximately in the southeast of the sky and can be seen with the naked eye. However, the same applies to Mars: it is only weakly illuminated, and is currently not an impressive sight in the sky. However, with a telescope the view becomes a little better and you can see Saturn's rings.

Why do the planets “line up” in the sky?

Bales explains why the planets appear to “line up” in the sky: “The solar system arose from a rotating disk of gas and dust. For this reason, all the planets move in roughly the same plane. They are often 'spread' across the sky. They are almost always in the shape of an arc, but “They're usually far apart.” The expert continues: “Sometimes some of them end up in the same area of ​​the sky. Then they appear to be on a line, that is, along a short arc.

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Of the six planets that are supposed to line up in the morning sky on June 3, you can actually see only two without any aids: Mars and Saturn. If you have a telescope and know your way around the sky, you can still see Uranus and Neptune — the other planets setting in the light of the rising sun. By the way, the supposed “planetary display” isn't just limited to June 3rd, but the planets also line up in the morning sky (sometimes in a slightly different order) in the weeks before and after. However, it will be equally difficult to see as it did on June 3rd. (unpaid bill)