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Rare planetary parade aligns in the sky this week

The five planets aligned in a similar way nearly 18 years ago — and it won’t happen again until 2040.

TAMPA, Fla — Set your alarms a little earlier this week! Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn will sequentially align for the first time in nearly two decades, and it's worth the early wake-up call.

The planets aligned in a similar way in 2004 and, unfortunately, they will not align like this again until 2040.

Anyone across the country can get a view of this rare conjunction. Luckily for astronomy nerds, all five planets will be aligned in the same order that they orbit the sun!

Where can I see it?

The planets will stretch across the sky starting low in the east and then gradually rising to the south. This is the direction stargazers will need to look in to catch the view.

The wonderful moment about this alignment is that a telescope isn't needed. All planets, even dimly lit Mercury, will be bright and visible to the naked eye, even in bright cities. The main caveat is cloud cover; if the sky is clear and no buildings are in the way, count on a good view.

Credit: 10 Tampa Bay

When can I see it?

Friday, June 24, will be the best day for viewing because the moon joins in on the fun! Look toward the southeast, and you'll see the waning crescent moon settled in between Venus and Mars.

Early risers, this is your week. The best time to look at the sky will be about 45 minutes before sunrise (6:35 a.m in Tampa on Friday) through the end of June.

While you'll be able to see all five planets at once in the twilight of the morning, each planet will appear at different times.

Saturn and its beautiful rings appear first and will rise above the horizon before the midnight hour on June 24. Jupiter follows and rises close to 1:07 a.m. Next up is Mars; it arrives shortly after at 1:37 a.m.

Venus, the brightest of the bunch, pops up a couple of hours later around 3:03 a.m. Last but not least, small but mighty Mercury will appear above the horizon at 3:39 a.m.

All planets will remain visible before the morning sun takes over and washes the planets out of our sight.

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