Which Planets Will be Visible in the June 3 Planet Parade?

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By Lydia Amazouz Published on June 1, 2024 11:36
Which Planets Will Be Visible In The June 3 Planet Parade

Hoosiers and skywatchers worldwide are gearing up for a much-anticipated celestial event on June 3, 2024: a planetary alignment involving six planets.

However, NASA has tempered expectations about what will actually be visible. Here’s what you need to know about this event and other astronomical phenomena happening this month.

The Planetary Alignment

On the morning of June 3, six planets—Mercury, Jupiter, Uranus, Mars, Neptune, and Saturn—will align in the predawn sky. This rare configuration, often referred to as a "parade of planets," has generated considerable excitement among astronomy enthusiasts and casual stargazers alike.

However, NASA has provided some important clarifications that may dampen expectations. According to NASA, only two of these planets, Mars and Saturn, will be visible to the naked eye. The other planets will either be too close to the horizon or too faint to see without special equipment. This means that while the alignment is a spectacular event in theory, the actual viewing experience will be more subdued for those without access to telescopes or binoculars.

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Visibility Details

NASA's monthly skywatching tips have shed light on why most of the planets in this alignment will not be visible. Mercury and Jupiter will be too close to the horizon during morning twilight, making them difficult to spot as they will be obscured by the sun’s glare. Uranus and Neptune present another challenge; they are simply too faint to be seen without a telescope.


Even with binoculars, these distant planets will appear as small, dim points of light. This leaves Mars and Saturn as the main attractions for naked-eye observers. These planets, positioned far from the sun in the sky, should be easily identifiable due to their distinctive red and yellow hues, respectively.

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In Indiana, the planetary alignment will be visible toward the eastern sky, weather permitting. Brian Murphy, a professor of physics and astronomy at Butler University, suggests that those eager to spot Jupiter and Mercury should bring a pair of binoculars and find a location with a clear view of the northeast horizon. He notes that Mars and Saturn will be easier to see, as they will be higher in the sky and not affected by the horizon’s light pollution.

Best Viewing Time and Conditions

The best time to view this alignment will be approximately 15-30 minutes before sunrise on June 3. This narrow window is crucial because as the sun rises, the increasing daylight will quickly overwhelm the faint light of the planets. For those in Central Indiana, the National Weather Service forecasts partly cloudy skies with a low around 62 degrees Fahrenheit on the night before the event, transitioning to mostly sunny skies with a high near 85 degrees Fahrenheit on June 3.

There is a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms after 2 p.m., but these should not affect the early morning visibility. Optimal viewing conditions include finding a dark area away from city lights and using high-powered binoculars or a telescope for the best experience.

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Future Planetary Alignments

If you miss the June 3 alignment, don’t worry; another opportunity is just around the corner. NASA highlights a similar event later in the month. On June 29, Saturn, the Moon, Mars, and Jupiter will line up across the morning sky, offering another chance to observe a planetary parade.

This alignment will be more favorable for observers, as the planets involved will be more visible and easier to distinguish. Alignments involving multiple planets are rare, but when they occur, they provide a unique chance to see several of our solar system’s neighbors in a single view.

How Do Planets Align?

Planetary alignments occur as the planets in our solar system orbit the sun along slightly tilted planes relative to each other. Over time, they can appear to align from our perspective on Earth, although these formations are temporary and dependent on the planets’ varying speeds and distances from the sun.

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The mechanics of these alignments are fascinating, involving precise calculations of orbital paths and timing. While two to four planet alignments happen several times a year, alignments involving five or more planets are much less common and are eagerly anticipated by the astronomical community.

Other Astronomical Events in June

In addition to the June 3 planetary alignment, several other significant celestial events will take place this month, offering skywatchers multiple opportunities to explore and enjoy the night sky.

  • June 3: The crescent Moon will sit beneath Mars in the morning twilight, providing a beautiful pairing for early risers. This conjunction will be visible low in the eastern sky, and the proximity of these celestial bodies will make for a striking view, especially through binoculars or a telescope.
  • June 6: A new moon will occur, marking the start of a new lunar cycle. During this phase, the moon is between the Earth and the sun, and its illuminated side is facing away from us. This results in a dark sky, ideal for stargazing and observing other celestial objects without the interference of moonlight.
  • June 21: The full moon will rise, illuminating the night sky and providing excellent conditions for moon observation. This full moon, known as the Strawberry Moon, will be visible all night long, making it a great opportunity for both casual observers and photographers to capture its beauty.
  • June 24: Jupiter will become visible low in the eastern sky before sunrise, forming a line with Mars and Saturn. This linear formation will stretch towards the south and will be a delightful sight for early risers. Jupiter's bright presence, along with the reddish hue of Mars and the yellow glow of Saturn, will create a visually stunning alignment.
  • June 27: The Moon and Saturn will rise in the east around midnight and appear close together by dawn. This conjunction will bring the two celestial bodies into close proximity, close enough to appear in the same field of view through binoculars. By dawn, they will be high in the southern sky, providing a fantastic viewing opportunity.
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These events, along with the planetary alignments, offer skywatchers a range of fascinating sights throughout the month.

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An editor specializing in astronomy and space industry, passionate about uncovering the mysteries of the universe and the technological advances that propel space exploration.

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