Stunning rare five-planet alignment set to be visible above the UK tonight

Seven planets will line up tomorrow for the first time in 18 years - and the phenomenon will be visible from the UK.

Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus are set to align in a rare planetary occurrence, forming a straight line in the sky which, in technical terms, is known as a planetary parade.

The seven planets will span in an east to south line although only five planets - Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn - will be visible to the naked eye in the early hours of Friday. The last time this happened was 2004, and it's not expected to occur again until 2040.

Stargazers are advised to wake up before the crack of dawn to catch a glimpse of the celestial celebration.

Astronomer and founder of Stargazing London, Tom Kerss, told The Sun: "It's well worth setting an early alarm and peering out from your garden, or any south/east-facing window or balcony available to you.

"The planets are easy to pick out even in the relatively light summer sky. Unlike stars, they don't appear to twinkle, and Mars is noticeably orange, whereas Saturn is faintly golden.

"The inner planets, Mercury and Venus, don't get very high above the horizon before sunrise with Mercury, in particular, climbing less than eight degrees before it fades out of view.

"To appreciate them, you'll need a very low - preferably flat - eastern horizon, free from obstructions like trees or buildings. It may be worth scoping out a good viewing spot ahead of time to improve your chances."

Although the weather is set to be drizzly this week, with a weather warning for thunderstorms in place until midnight on Thursday, there is still a chance the rare phenomenon can be seen.

The Met Office is forecasting that there will be some partial cloud cover at the time the planets are expected to be visible.

Anybody wanting to see this rare sight will need to be up early with experts advising people they'll get the best views between 45 and 90 minutes before sunrise.

Amateur astronomer, sky scourer and science communicator Kevin Walsh also advised readers how to catch the rare alignment.

He told The Sun: "If you look east about 45 minutes before sunrise on June, 24 you will be able to see this phenomenon.

"For those in the north east of the UK, this will be around 3.30am, and the south west around 4.00am.

"Mercury will appear closest to the horizon around east/north east and we will have around 30-40 minutes of visibility before twilight interferes. Saturn will appear in the sky towards the south east."

Sunrise in the West Midland times will be around 4.45am on Friday. Times include:

Cannock - 4.44am

Dudley - 4.45am

Shrewsbury - 4.47am

Ludlow - 4.49am

It's also advised look very close to the horizon and find a high or clear spot to view the alignment as buildings or trees can obscure the view, and once the sun comes up it will wash out the sky and obscure the view.

As well as the special planet alignment, the crescent moon will be visible an hour before sunrise for the next three mornings, sitting just between Venus and Mars.

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