How to Catch a Glimpse of the ‘Planetary Parade’ This Weekend

By: Sam Watanuki | Published: Jun 28, 2024

A planetary parade occurs when multiple planets align in the sky, appearing to march in a straight line.

This rare event is set to happen on Saturday morning, just before sunrise. It’s a spectacle that astronomers and casual stargazers alike won’t want to miss.

When to Watch

The best time to view the planetary parade is early Saturday morning, June 29, just before sunrise.

Man being awakened by an alarm clock

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This timing ensures that the planets will be high enough in the sky to be seen clearly without being washed out by the sun’s light.

Where to Look

To catch the planetary parade, find a spot with a clear view of the eastern or southeastern sky. Urban areas with minimal light pollution will provide the best viewing conditions.

A photograph of the night sky

Source: Wikimedia

Make sure you have an unobstructed view of the horizon for the best experience.

What You Will See

During the parade, you’ll see Jupiter closest to the horizon, followed by Uranus, Mars, Neptune, and Saturn.

A photograph of the gas-giant Jupiter taken by a space telescope

Source: Wikimedia

The moon will also be part of this alignment, adding to the spectacle. With the right conditions, these celestial bodies will appear as bright dots marching across the sky.

Essential Equipment

For the best viewing experience, bring binoculars or a small telescope.

A photograph of a large telescope

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Neptune, in particular, is not visible to the naked eye and requires strong binoculars or a telescope to see clearly.

Best Viewing Spots

Finding the right location is key. Look for a place away from city lights, like a park or a rural area. High elevations can also offer clearer views.

The sun sets in brilliant colors as the stars are visible.

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Ensure your chosen spot has a clear view of the eastern or southeastern horizon.


Friday Viewing Option

If you can’t make it on Saturday, you may still get a good view on Friday morning, June 28.

Silhouette of Person Under Blue and Purple Sky

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The alignment will be similar, but the moon’s position will differ slightly. Neptune will be right next to the moon on Friday, making it easier to spot.


Using Astronomy Apps

Turn your smartphone into a celestial guide with apps like Skyview or SkySafari Pro.

A photograph of a woman using her smartphone

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These apps help identify planets and other celestial bodies in real-time, making your stargazing experience more enjoyable and educational.


Expert Tips

Preston Dyches from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory recommends getting up early and being patient.

A man in a black jacket stands before a very starry sky.

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He emphasizes that while the planetary parade is a fascinating event, managing expectations is important to avoid disappointment.


Why This Parade is Special

Unlike the June 3 alignment, this weekend’s parade falls on a Saturday, making it more accessible for those with busy weekdays.

Mars against a black background

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Additionally, the planets will be higher in the sky, providing a clearer view.


Public Interest

Andrew Fazekas from Astronomers Without Borders notes an increased interest in sky-watching events like this.

An up-close depiction of a large planet with a star in the background

Source: Freepik

While the parade may not be as spectacular as a solar eclipse, it’s a unique opportunity for enthusiasts to witness a rare celestial event.


Staying Engaged

Even if the planetary parade doesn’t live up to the hype of other celestial events, it’s a great way to engage with the night sky.

Four people standing on a hilltop looking at the Milky Way galaxy in the night sky

Source: Kendall Hoopes/Pexels

These events inspire curiosity and a deeper appreciation for the universe, encouraging more people to look up and explore.