What is a ‘Parade of Planets' and will you be able to see it this June? Here's what to know

The spectacle might not be what many had hoped for

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Six planets will line up this month in what’s known as a "parade of planets," but what exactly will you see and will it be visible in the Chicago area?

The spectacle might not be what many had hoped for.

Here’s what to know about this celestial event.

What is a parade of planets?

Our solar system’s planets zip around the sun at an angle. Every once in a while, several align on the right side of the sun to be visible across a narrow band of Earth's sky.

How common the phenomenon is depends on how many planets align and whether or not they are visible without binoculars or a telescope. A handful of planets are usually in the night sky at any given time, though they can be obscured below the horizon or blocked out by the sun’s light.

What will be visible during the parade of planets?

Unfortunately, this planetary parade of Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune won’t offer much of a view.

The spectacle won’t be as eye-catching as expected, with only two planets will be visible to the naked eye.

“The sun’s going to be photobombing the parade,” said Ronald Gamble, a theoretical astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

According to Chicago's Adler Planetarium, "most of the planetary action this month occurs before dawn."

Mercury and Jupiter will be too close to the horizon to be visible, blotted out by the rising sun. Uranus and Neptune can be glimpsed only with a telescope, though Uranus may be too close to the sun to be visible.

Early risers can still look to the east to spot a waning crescent moon on the lower left, followed by a faintly red Mars and pale yellow dot of Saturn. Both planets are already visible in the early mornings and will be for much of the summer.

"Mars rises a little north of east around 3:30 am at the start of the month, and around 2:30 am by month’s end. Mars is shining around first-magnitude and will be easy to spot in June. The morning of June 2, the planet is about six degrees below and to the left of a waning crescent Moon," Adler Planetarium reports. "The next morning, June 3, the planet appears slightly below and to the right of the waning crescent Moon. Mars gets about 15–20 degrees above the eastern horizon before dawn’s glare blots it from view."

What else to see in the sky this summer

While June’s planetary parade may not dazzle, the night sky still offers wonders to spot.

The summer offers great weather to explore the night sky with a star or planet-viewing app, said Michelle Nichols at the Adler Planetarium.

And the annual Perseid meteor shower is expected to peak in mid-August with quick streaks of light. Nichols recommends observing the shower away from city lights and allowing your eyes to adjust to the dark for prime viewing.

Also taking place this month are the Strawberry Moon and the summer solstice.

The Strawberry Moon is set to take place on June 21.

Meanwhile, the summer solstice, marking the northern hemisphere’s longest day of the year, will arrive at 3:51 pm CT on on June 20.

"After the summer solstice, the amount of daylight gradually diminishes each day, until the winter solstice—which falls on December 21 this year," the planetarium reported.

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