Doha, Qatar: This week, Qatar will witness a “planetary parade” or when six of the eight planets in our solar system will line up – Saturn, Neptune, Mars, Uranus, Mercury and Jupiter.

A free public event will be hosted on Tuesday, June 4, starting at 1am at Al Kharrara, allowing enthusiasts to witness this celestial phenomenon.

Qatar-based astrophotographer and founder of Everester Observatory, Ajith Everester, said that the participants will be able to observe the night sky both with the naked eye and through telescopes focused on Saturn, Mars, and the Moon. “While the early morning timing on a weekday may not be ideal for everyone,” he added, “it’s a chance not to be missed.”

Everester told The Peninsula that Saturn will be visible all week after midnight, with Neptune joining it shortly thereafter. Mars will appear around 2am, and in the pre-dawn hours, Uranus, Jupiter, and Mercury will rise on the eastern horizon. This makes Saturn and Mars the best candidates for viewing the planetary parade with or without a telescope.

For those wondering about the best time to observe, any night this week should offer a good view. However, Everester advised heading to a dark location away from city lights, with a clear view to the east, on the morning of June 4.

“The crescent moon, set to rise at 2:39am with a modest magnitude of 3.5%, will be a stunning sight just two days before the new moon. A waning crescent on June 4 will captivate observers. Look out for the Milky Way and passing satellites as well,” said Qatar-based amateur astronomer Navin Anand.

Several locations in the country, such as Khor Al Adaid, Al Kharrara, Al Aamriya, and Galactic Bay, provide excellent vantage points away from city lights to observe the planetary parade.

Planetary alignments occur when planets travel along their ecliptic orbits and appear aligned from Earth’s perspective. Such alignments, involving three to eight planets, are not uncommon, though five or six-planet alignments are considered significant.

More planetary alignments are expected in the coming years, as outer planets, which move slowly in the sky, create numerous opportunities for these events. Another six-planet alignment will occur this August 28, Everester explained.

This planetary alignment, or parade of planets, appears to place them in a straight line, an illusion created by our perspective. According to NASA, astronomers refer to the phenomenon when two or more planets come close together in the sky as a conjunction. An ‘alignment’ occurs when all the planets appear close to the sun in a straight line.

For those interested in joining the free public event, contact Ajith Everester at +97455482045 or Navin Anand at +97430889582.

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