Planetary alignment to dazzle New Zealand skies this month

It will be a rare display.
It will be a rare display. Photo credit: Stardome Observatory and Planetarium

Stargazers will get the rare opportunity to see the alignment of five planets and eventually the moon this month. 

In a rare display, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn will align, along with the Moon, in sequential order from the sun.

Kiwis can expect to start to see the alignment of the planets from this Friday when Mercury - the solar system's smallest planet - joins the other four planets low on the horizon. 

Stargazers will be able to see this rare alignment about 30 minutes before sunrise with binoculars and an unobstructed view.  

But as the month continues, Kiwis will be able to see the alignment of the five planets with the naked eye as they climb higher in the sky and grow brighter. 

"If you get up before sunrise, you will be able to spot Mercury closest to the eastern horizon followed by the bright Venus," Auckland's Stardome Observatory said in a statement.

"Mars and Jupiter will be close together and high in the sky, while Saturn will be in the northern part of the sky. 

"The positions of each planet will slightly change every morning but they will all remain in the sky for the month."

Towards the end of June, all the planets along with the moon and a waning crescent will be in alignment on the morning of June 24. The moon will then move out of alignment and continue orbiting around the earth for a few days. 

Stargazers can also look forward to seeing a supermoon in mid-July, as well as a Delta Aquariid meteor shower.