June 2022 is a bonanza month for sky-gazers. From 10th June until the end of the month, seven planets will line up; five of them visible to the naked eye. It’s a rare occurrence, best seen in the hour before dawn. Adding to the spectacle, the moon will travel past each of the planets in turn over a period of nine days around the time of the summer solstice.
Where to see the five bright planets
The five bright planets will be visible in the order of their distance from the sun: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, with Mercury being closest to the Earth at the left end of the line. Near Venus, the greenish dot of distant ice giant Uranus may be visible in clear conditions and might be easiest to pick out on 24th and 25th June when the crescent moon is close by. Between Jupiter and Saturn the tiny blue speck of Neptune is visible only with the help of binoculars.
When to look
The full line-up of planets can only be seen in the hour before dawn, when all the planets have risen. Saturn is the first to rise, appearing (by mid-June) just after midnight. Jupiter and rusty-red Mars are next, rising together around 3am, followed an hour later by Venus, the brightest of all the planets. Last to rise, shortly before 4.30am, is Mercury, which shines faintly at first and gradually gains brilliance as the month progresses.
The waning moon joins the planets’ line-up between 18th and 27th June, making its way past each planet in turn, beginning with Saturn and ending with Mercury. By 24th June the crescent moon will be mid-way along the line of planets, roughly halfway between Venus and Mars.
Anyone up early and waiting for the solstice sunrise on 21st June may be lucky enough to catch sight of the planets lined up across the night sky. But the very best highlight of this bonanza month occurs in the hour before dawn on 26th June, when bright Venus and the crescent moon are close together, making a fine sight and a great photo opportunity.