SCIENCE + TECHNOLOGY

Raining on the parade of planets

May 30, 2024, 8:00 PM | Updated: May 31, 2024, 3:27 pm

A parade of planets happens when several planets align on the right side of the sun, making them vi...

A parade of planets happens when several planets align on the right side of the sun, making them visible from Earth's sky. (Canva)

(Canva)

Editor’s note: The original copy of this story had Saturday listed as June 3. It has since been updated to include an accurate date for Saturday.

OUTER SPACE —  If you’ve heard tale of an upcoming parade of planets set to happen Saturday, June 1, one NASA spokesman has some news.

“Yawn…. waste of time. A non-event,” he said.

NASA Ambassador to Utah, Patrick Wiggins, said ultimately this isn’t something to give two thoughts about. He said you’d be better off spending your Saturday morning sleeping. He said that’s what he’ll be doing.

What is the parade of planets? 

According to the Associated Press, a planetary parade occurs when several of the planets in the solar system align on the right side of the sun. That means they are visible in Earth’s sky. 

“Well, yeah, they’re going to be there, but unfortunately, at least two of the planets you’re going to need a telescope to see,” Wiggins said. “The other two planets are so close to the horizon and the sun, they’ll probably be lost in the glare of the sun.” 

Those two visible planets are Mars and Saturn, but like Wiggins described, they’ll only be visible through a telescope. 

Blown out of proportion

Wiggins said the media and internet buildup of this event has been misleading. 

“The problem that we’re running into is, believe it or not, the internet doesn’t always get things right,” he said. “It’s not what you would call a ‘rare’ event, it’s what I would call a ‘blown out of proportion’ event.” 

If you really want to see Mars and Saturn, Wiggins said the planets move so slowly that they’ll be visible for a day or two after June 1. Just enough time to get your hands on a proper telescope

What should you do instead?

If you want to have some space fun on Friday night, Wiggins invites you to the observatory in Stansbury Park.

“The Stansbury Park Observatory Complex is going to be open from sunset to 11 p.m.,” Wiggins said.

It’s free and houses the largest ameture telescope on the planet.

“Come out and really experience the nighttime sky,” he said. “The next morning, well it’s going to be sleeping in because you stayed up late at the star party.” 

If you still want to give the parade of planets a try, Wiggins isn’t saying not to.

“Get up just before sunrise, see what you can see,” he said.

But if you don’t see anything, you can’t say Wiggins didn’t warn you. 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

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Raining on the parade of planets