June 12, 2022: How many planets can you see before breakfast? Tom Harradine of Brisbane, Australia, woke up early Thursday morning and found the entire solar system sprawled across the dawn sky:
“This might not be a very spectacular image, but it is relatively unique,” says Harradine. “Captured here in a single photograph are all the major planets of our Solar System, spanning about 90° across the eastern dawn Brisbane sky. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn can be seen with the unaided eye. Uranus and Neptune require binoculars.”
This is the first time since December 2004 that the five naked-eye planets have appeared together in this way. They are arrayed in order of distance from the sun: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. In the mornings ahead, Mercury will climb higher and brighten, making the group even easier to see.
Dates of special interest include June 16th when Mercury is farthest from the sun and June 21st through 26th when the Moon hops from planet to planet, producing a series of early morning conjunctions. Set your alarm for dawn and enjoy the show! Sky maps: today, June 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26.
more images: from Paolo Bardelli of Sumirago (Varese), Italy; from James Glucksman of Kakanui, New Zealand; from Bob Beal of Washington, Utah; from Noeleen Lowndes of Gold Coast Qld Australia; from Gary Dowdle of Fort Davis, Texas;