scorecardWhen, where, and how to see the rare alignment of 5 planets in the night sky this month
  1. Home
  2. Science
  3. news
  4. When, where, and how to see the rare alignment of 5 planets in the night sky this month

When, where, and how to see the rare alignment of 5 planets in the night sky this month

Grace Eliza Goodwin,Morgan McFall-Johnsen   

When, where, and how to see the rare alignment of 5 planets in the night sky this month
LifeScience3 min read

Don't miss the planet parade taking place at the end of March.

Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, Uranus, and Mars are set to align in an arc formation on the nights of March 25 through 30, alongside the moon.

Jupiter may sink into the sunset and get lost in sunlight after the 28th, though, so aim to see this relatively rare cosmic event by then.

If you want to spot all five planets in one night, timing, dark skies, and a clear view of the horizon are key.

How to set yourself up for the planetary parade

You can probably see some of these planets from the city. Venus will be the easiest to spot with the naked eye, because it's the third-brightest object in the sky, after the sun and moon.

However, some of the other planets, like Uranus and Mercury, may be harder to see. Give yourself the best odds by getting far from city lights, to a place with dark skies, before sunset. Make sure to check the weather and plan for a cloudless evening.

Set up in a spot with a clear, unobstructed view of the western horizon — no mountains or buildings blocking the sunset! You'll need to peer low on the horizon to spot Jupiter and Mercury.

While most of the planets should be visible to the naked eye, you'll probably need binoculars, or even a telescope, to see Uranus and get the full five-planet procession.

An easy way to identify the planets is to download an astronomy app like Sky Tonight or SkySafari, which will show you exactly where each planet is in the night sky.

Where to look and what to expect in the hours after sunset

Shortly after the sun dips below the horizon, look to the west. Low in the sky, where the sun just set, Jupiter and Mercury will appear side-by-side.

Dwindling sunlight might make them hard to see with the naked eye. So, if you can't spot them at first, try binoculars. Just make sure the sun is below the horizon so you don't potentially harm your eyes by looking at it through binoculars.

The duo will only be visible for less than hour after sunset. After that, they will sink below the horizon and you won't be able to see them.

Now it's time to admire Venus — the brightest "star" in the sky, poised above Jupiter — and look for Uranus with your binoculars.

Uranus will be above and to the left of Venus, very close by. You'll be able to see the fainter planet best after all the sunlight has faded from the sky, taking Jupiter and Mercury with it. You'll have an hour or two to search for it before that duo, too, sets below the horizon.

On the other hand, you'll have plenty of time to check out the red planet, Mars. It will appear bright red and high up in the southwest sky, above the crescent moon and slightly to its left from March 25 to 27, then below the moon on March 28 and beyond.

Bonus planet: Saturn

If you stay up all night, or wake up again before dawn, you may spot Saturn hanging low on the eastern horizon just before sunrise on March 27 and 28.

This story has been updated. It was originally published on March 20, 2023.




Advertisement