Artist’s rendering of the planetary alignment. Courtesy of AccuWeather

If there are clear skies on Friday morning, San Diegans will be able to see a rare alignment of the five inner planets along with the crescent moon.

Around 5 a.m. on Friday, the planets will appear from the east to the south in an arc beginning at the horizon and stretching upward to the right.

Depending on your viewpoint, you may be able to see Mercury, Venus, the moon, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn in that order. But don’t be surprised if Mercury is too low to the horizon to be visible.

The distant ice giants — Uranus and Neptune — are in the lineup as well, but they’re too dim to see without a telescope.

Keep in mind that the plants will appear as bright stars to the naked eye, with Venus and Jupiter the brightest and Mercury the least.

The weather forecast for Friday calls for clouds and patchy fog along the coast, but clear skies inland. First light will be at 5:14 a.m.

According to National Geographic, “Having two or three planets huddled together is not all that rare, but the last time we saw a conjunction the five brightest planets was in December 2004.”

Though the planets might appear close together, they’re actually millions and millions of miles apart in space.

You can see the planetary spectacle before dawn throughout the week, but the moon doesn’t move into position until Friday morning.



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Ellen Bullock