Monday 20th to Sunday 26th June 2022
There is a very special event taking place on the morning of Friday 24th, but you will need to be up early, around 4am, to catch it. It really will be worth the effort - so long as it's not cloudy.
If you look towards the east at that time, there is an opportunity to see all seven of our neighbouring planets at once! They will form a line running either side of due east.
From left to right..........Mercury very close to the horizon, Venus, Uranus, Mars, Jupiter and Neptune, with Saturn slightly further to the right.
Uranus and Neptune will be too dim to see with the naked eye, so you will need binoculars or a telescope to be able to find them, but the others are easy to spot. As if that wasn't enough, a Crescent Moon will be in the middle of the line-up as well.
Hang on..........at school I was taught that there were nine planets in the Solar System, not seven. Well of course you are stood on one of them - Earth. Little Pluto was "downgraded" to a minor or "dwarf" planet by the International Astronomical Union back in 2006. It was originally discovered by an American astronomy student called Clyde Tombaugh in 1930. Pluto lives in the Kuiper Belt that contains many objects orbiting the Sun at a greater distance than Neptune and the problem started when during the 1990s we started to discover quite a few large objects out there and there aren't enough Disney names to cover them all!
Technically, Pluto is classified as a dwarf planet because it does not have enough mass to have cleared the space immediately around it from other debris.
Screenshots courtesy of Stellarium
Copyright Adrian Dening and Radio Ninesprings 2022