Astronauts, Jupiter, Mercury to line up in planetary order this week

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Astronauts, Jupiter, Mercury to line up in planetary order this week

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A rare five-planet alignment will be peak on June 24, allowing a spectacular viewing of Saturn, Jupiter and Mercury as they line up in planetary order.

The event began at the beginning of June and has continued to get brighter and easier to see as the month progresses, according to Diana Hannikainen, observing editor of Sky Telescope.

A waning crescent moon will be joining the party between Venus and Mars on Friday, adding another celestial object to the lineup. This is where our planet will appear in the planetary order, because the moon will represent the Earth's relative position in the alignment.

This rare phenomenon has not occurred since December 2004 and this year, the distance between Mercury and Saturn will be smaller, according to Sky Telescopes.

How do I view the alignment?

The stargazers will need a clear view of the eastern horizon to spot the incredible phenomenon, Hannikainen said. She said that humans can view the planet's show with the naked eye, but binoculars are recommended for an optimal viewing experience.

Some stargazers are especially excited for the celestial event, including Hannikainen. She flew from her home west of Boston to a beachside town along the Atlantic Ocean to get an optimal view of the alignment.

I'm going to be out there with my binoculars, looking at the east and southeast and crossing all my fingers and toes that it's going to be clear, Hannikainen said.

Stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere can see planets from the eastern to southeastern horizon, while those in the southern hemisphere should look along the eastern to northeast horizon. The only requirement is a clear sky in the direction of the alignment.

She said that the moon will have continued its orbit around the Earth, moving it out of alignment with the planets by the next day.

If you miss the five-planet alignment in sequential order, the next one will happen in 2040, according to Sky Telescope.

Partial solar eclipses occur when the moon passes in front of the sun, but only blocks some of its light. Be sure to wear proper eclipse glasses to view solar eclipses, as the sun's light can be damaging to the eye.

A partial solar eclipse will be visible on October 25 in Greenland, Iceland, Europe, northeastern Africa, the Middle East, western Asia, India and western China. Neither of the partial solar eclipses will be visible from North America.

A total lunar eclipse will also be on display for those in Asia, Australia, the Pacific, South America and North America on November 8 at 3: 01 a.m. The moon will be setting for those in eastern regions of North America.

If you live in an urban area, you may want to drive to a place that isn't littered with city lights to get the best view.

Find an open area with a wide view of the sky. And give your eyes about 20 to 30 minutes - without looking at your phone or other electronics - to adjust to the darkness so that the meteors will be easier to spot.