The rare five-planet alignment of 2022 remains in view this first weekend of summer. To see it at its best, you have to be awake at dawn. But if you are, you’ll be rewarded with what will probably be the most striking celestial encounter between the two brightest objects in the night sky: Venus and the moon.
considering the sun It gets up so early this time of year in the Northern Hemisphere that it’s admittedly a bit difficult to get up to see a celestial event before sunrise. On Saturday morning (June 25), Moon will rise high above and to the right of dazzling Venus.
However, if the sky is clear early Sunday morning (June 26), it will be worth setting your alarm 60 to 90 minutes before sunrise to watch the celestial dance of these two bright objects.
Related: Stargazing with binoculars: tips for beginners
Look low to the east-northeast horizon to see a very thin (7% illuminated) waning crescent Moon, less than three days before the new phase. And located about 2.5 degrees slightly below and to the right of this lunar band will be Venus.
Although the two will appear to be very close, they are quite distant: Venus is currently 207.3 million kilometers (128.8 million miles) from Landwhile the moon is about 515 times closer, 249,900 miles (402,000 km) away.
if you have good binoculars and look early enough, while the sky is still relatively dark, scan 6.7 degrees above Venus to see the famous pleiades star cluster, which is beginning to reemerge after being hidden in the sun’s glare for the past month. (As a point of reference, a dime held at arm’s length is 2 degrees wide, while your clenched fist held at arm’s length is about 10 degrees.)
Venus currently rises about 12 minutes after first light at dawn. Interestingly, however, in the next few weeks, when Venus follows the sun through the northernmost part of the ecliptic and through the constellations. Taurus Y Gemini, the planet will actually appear to rise within just a minute or two after sunrise. This is how it will be during the last 10 days of July. However, by the last week of August, Venus will rise only about 90 minutes before sunrise, sinking rapidly into bright morning twilight with each passing morning. And by the end of September, Venus will have almost disappeared from the morning sky.
So, despite the ungodly hour, get up early on Sunday morning to see Venus while it’s still easily visible. This date with our closest neighbor in space will make a beautiful celestial tableau greet you on an early summer morning.
Joe Rao is an instructor and guest speaker at New York’s Hayden Planetarium. write about astronomy natural history magazinethe farmers almanac and other publications. Follow us on Twitter @Spacepointcom and in Facebook.