The planets are about to align: Here’s how Aussies can see them

Unfortunately, your view from Earth won't be quite as good as this image, but it's still a thrill.

Unfortunately, your view from Earth won't be quite as good as this image, but it's still a thrill. Photo: Getty

If you’re willing to brave the chilly hours of early morning and have a good sense of direction (or at least a compass app), you could get the chance to see the planets align – literally.

A ‘planetary parade’ is set to decorate the sky at the end of May and early June.

This will have Saturn, Mars, Mercury and Jupiter lined up and the display will be visible to the naked eye, although Jupiter may be harder to see due to its proximity to the Sun.

Uranus and Neptune will also be lined up, but will most likely only be visible with a telescope.

When to look

In Australia, the parade may be best seen on May 28 about 6.30am in respective time zones.

But if you accidentally sleep in, never fear.

Astronomical Society of Australia secretary John O’Byrne told The New Daily the event would not be constrained to a single morning, so you might get a few more chances to catch a glimpse of the planets lined up.

“It’s not on one day and off the next,” he said.

“An alignment like this takes time to assemble, and so necessarily it’ll be much the same appearance in the sky over extended periods of time.”

This is what Melburnians could potentially see in the sky at 6.30am on Wednesday. Photo: TND/Stellarium

O’Byrne said the sight should be visible anywhere in Australia, as long as it’s not too cloudy and there isn’t anything obscuring your view of the sky.

Those hoping to catch a glimpse of the parade will have to look at the north-east part of the sky.

Realistic expectations

If you’re a newbie to sky gazing, or would just like to confirm the best date and time to catch the show, O’Byrne recommended using free ‘planetarium’ software such as Stellarium to plan ahead.

He also warned the hype around the upcoming planetary parade would exceed reality.

“I would love to say it’s going to be fantastic and spectacular [but] to be honest … it really helps if you’ve got a little map in front of you so you can pick out which of the relatively bright stars we’re talking about is actually one of the planets,” O’Byrne said.

“It would be great if we could encourage people to go out there and look, but don’t make them think their life’s going to change.”

If you miss this event altogether, you may not have to wait decades for a similar event to come around again.

O’Byrne said this type of planet alignment happens every year or two, but may involve different groups of planets.

Topics: Astronomy
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