It’s about time to look to the skies again for a chance to see another rare celestial phenomenon.
Weeks after the “super flower blood moon” sent many outside, a “parade of planets” will give stargazers the chance to see a significant portion of the planets in our solar system in a way that hasn’t been observed in more than a century and won’t happen again for many years.
The event, weather permitting, will be visible early Friday morning in the Charlotte area.
Here’s what to know about the parade of planets and how to check it out for yourself in Charlotte:
What is the planet parade?
A planet parade is a rare phenomenon where multiple planets are lined up in the sky from Earth’s point of view.
Friday’s alignment will feature all five of the “naked-eye planets” — planets that people can see in the sky without equipment such as a telescope — “arranged in their true order from the Sun,” according to the Farmer’s Almanac.
The order will be “Mercury, Venus, the Moon, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.”
Charlotte forecast for parade of planets
Friday’s forecast, according to the National Weather Service, calls for “mostly sunny” skies in Charlotte, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a chance clouds will get in the way of viewing the parade of planets.
There’s a 20% chance of precipitation in the area Friday, the NWS advises, and there’s specifically “a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms before 9 a.m.”
When was the last planet parade?
The last time all of these planets were aligned in order like they will be on Friday was December 2004, according to Sky & Telescope, the magazine published by the American Astronomical Society.
But it’s been even longer since they all appeared so close together, per the Farmer’s Almanac.
“The last time that a similarly compact parade of planets graced our skies was in 1864,” the guide says.
The alignment isn’t expected to happen again until 2040, the weather service AccuWeather advises.
The best time to see the planet alignment in 2022
The Farmer’s Almanac recommends heading outside to check out the planet parade about 40 minutes before sunrise Friday.
Sunrise is expected to start at approximately 6:09 a.m. in Charlotte on Friday.
The best views will be in the southern and eastern skies, the Farmer’s Almanac adds.