What is the difference between a planetary alignment and a conjunction?

Planetary alignments are where three or more planets (though I have included the Moon in my list below) come close together and form a line. Now, it might not always be a perfect line, but it is still an impressive sight to behold.

Conjunctions are where two celestial bodies come very close together. They are often so close they can be seen together through a telescope.

How to spot the latest planetary alignment

(and why they are not as rare as you think)

It can’t have escaped your notice that every couple of months we get a “once in 400 years” planetary alignment, or a super blood moon, or something or other. They seem to be incredibly regular for events that are once in several hundred years!

Well this is because each particular arrangement of planets is rare, but we do get several different arrangements a year. For example, a line up of Mars, Saturn and Jupiter may have not occurred since the time of Gallileo, but Saturn, Mars, Jupiter has.

Alignment of all the planets in June 2022

This is a big one! This month all of the planets come together in the northeast just before sunrise. Set an alarm for 6am and look north to see the line up of the easy to see planets such as Saturn, Jupiter and Venus, then you can use apps such as NightSky (pic below) to help you pick out the rest.

Planetary alignment displayed on an iPhone graphic
The June 2022 planetary alignment as seen from Mandurah, WA. Screen capture from NightSky app.

Let’s have a look at these two examples below…

Jupiter and Saturn Conjunction

21st December 2020

beach at dusk with two small bright stars visible that area actually the planets, and the moon above
The 'Great Conjunction' between Saturn and Jupiter on 21st December 2020. Salmon Beach, D'Entrecasteaux National Park, Western Australia

Jupiter, Saturn and the Christmas Comet

21st December 2021

Alignment of Jupiter and Saturn, and the Christmas Comet (Leonards Comet) in Nickol, Karratha, Western Australia 21st December 2021

How to spot the planets

Well some planets shine bright and can be very easy to pick out, such as Venus, but others like Saturn can look just like any other star. Here it can be great to use apps or sky maps to help identify what you are looking for.

A great website resource is the Time and Date Night Sky Map,  and an app I use all the time is the Night Sky X app

You can always be kept up to date of future conjunctions or alignments by subscribing to my newsletter…


Western Australia Planetary Alignments 2022

So what can we expect to see this year? Well I have compiled a list of all the planetary conjunctions and alignments visible in Australia in 2022 below…

May 2022

1st – Jupiter and Venus conjunction

25th – Moon, Jupiter, Venus and Mars aligned

1st – Jupiter and Mars conjunction

June 2022

18th – Moon and Saturn conjunction

21st – Moon and Jupiter, Mars & Venus aligned

23rd – Moon and Mars conjunction

26th- Moon and Venus Conjunction

July 2022

16th – Moon and Saturn conjunction

17th – Moon, Saturn and Jupiter aligned

19th – Moon and Jupiter conjunction

22nd – Moon and Mars conjunction

August 2022

12th – Moon and Saturn conjunction

19th Moon and Mars conjunction

September 2022

8th – Moon and Saturn conjunction

10th – Moon, Jupiter and Saturn aligned

12th – Moon and Jupiter conjunction

17th Moon and Mars conjunction

October 2022

9th – Moon and Jupiter conjunction

15th – Moon and Mars conjunction

November 2022

2nd – Moon and Saturn conjunction

4th – Moon, Saturn and Jupiter alignment

5th – Moon and Jupiter conjunction

12th – Moon and Mars conjunction

December 2022

2nd – Moon and Jupiter conjunction

22nd – Moon and Saturn conjunction

29th – Moon and Jupiter conjunction

Want to know how to photograph them? Fear not! I have a blog post about how to photograph the night sky coming out soon!

The Moon, Mars and Venus setting just after sunset in Karratha, Western Australia


It’s not just about seeing the planets, you can go one step further and photograph them! And this blog here will tell you all about how to capture that image yourself. Or you could go one better and book in your own AstroPortrait.

mother breastfeeding a baby sitting in an armchair in the hills at night with the milky way behind AstroPortraits astrophotography
Mother breastfeeding her baby beneath Venus