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'Planetary parade' viewing possible across CNY Monday morning


Just weeks after the total solar eclipse swept through central and northern New York, another astronomical event is hitting the skies.

Astronomers say on June 3, six planets will appear to align in the sky.

Cornell astronomy Professor Phil Nicholson said to understand the event, it may help to think of the planets like race horses or race cars, all moving at different speeds.

"These planets are moving around this race course lapping one another repeatedly, so there are often times when there's two or three of them that happen to be in the same direction at the same time. But having all of them in roughly the same direction is statistically fairly unusual," Nicholson said.

Some planets, like Mercury, move very fast with an orbit of 88 days, while it takes Jupiter 12 years to go around the sun, and Neptune 165 years.

Nicholson said the best way to get a view of the planets occupying the same quadrant of the sky is to head outside around 4 a.m. Monday and look to the southeast. He said Venus will not be visible because of the timing of the sunrise.

But amateur astronomers may be able to see Mercury, Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune with a telescope or binoculars. There’s a good chance Saturn and Mars will be able to be seen by the naked eye.

"You'll just see Saturn as a sort of yellowish white,” Nicholson said. “Mars is usually distinctly reddish or pinkish, so especially when you see both of them together, you should be able to see the color difference. Mars should look redder."

Nicholson said the moon should also be an impressive sight that morning, as a thin waning crescent very close to Mars.

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.