Late this month, and into February, if you get up early in the morning you’ll see five planets and the Moon line up in the sky.

While the planets are in a line, this isn’t a planetary alignment. In astronomy, an alignment is when planets appear close together in the skies of Earth. Planetary alignments of two or three planets are pretty common, to get five would be amazing but unfortunately, that’s not what this is! They are aligned, but not in alignment.

The line of planets that will be visible in the sky is due to the flat, disc shape of our solar system. When viewed from Earth, the planets will usually form into a line running around the sky but this is only apparent when multiple planets are visible in the sky at the same time of night, as is the case at the moment.

To catch a view of the planets and the Moon you’ll need to be looking up around 5.20am from the 25th of January. Initially, Mercury will be low on the horizon so you may not spot it due to the rising Sun, but you should be able to see the other planets in a line up to the Moon. You’ll be able to catch the lineup over the next few weeks, so get up early and venture out.

Star chart for 2 Feb 2016

Star chart for 4 Feb 2016

Star chart for 6 Feb 2016