Astro Bob's Backyard Astronomy: Don't expect a monolith over Lake Superior, but still...
Bob King has alerted us to several exciting planetary groupings in recent months. But for the next couple weeks, we’ve got a chance to see a truly amazing lineup of the visible planets in the early morning skies. Bob writes:
“For the next three weeks all five of the bright, classical planets will appear in a line in order of their distance from the sun in the dawn sky. The moon will join the scene starting on June 18 when it passes near Saturn in conjunction. Other passes follow: Jupiter on June 21; Mars on June 22; Venus on June 26 and finally Mercury on June 27.
“One of the best mornings will be June 24 (shown above), when the crescent moon fills out the line in a particularly beautiful way. All the planets will be bright enough to see with the naked eye, but you're likely to need binoculars to dig out Mercury from the twilight glow, so be sure to bring a pair.
“The line of planets spans about 105° from low in the east-northeast to due south. Since the lowest planets — Mercury and Venus — appear only a few degrees above the eastern horizon you'll need an unobstructed view in that direction to see them. The others are much higher up and easy to spot.”
Bob tells us that an alignment like this won't occur again until March 2041. If you get a chance to head out to view this event in the final couple weeks of June, don’t expect the appearance of any epochal monoliths, but maybe you’ll want to bring along a recording of the opening fanfare of Richard Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra (Op. 30), just for fun.