You’ll Be Able to See Some Planets Very Clearly This Week — Nat Geo Tells You Where and How
For the first time in eight years, National Geographic reports, you can now see the five planets that are visible with the naked eye in one night.
According to NatGeo, the “classical naked-eye planets”, which are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, have not all been visible in the same night since 2004. Not only will these planets be visible all in one night — although not necessarily at the same time or in the same view — if you miss it one night you’ll be able to catch it in another, as the quintet will be around night after night for the next several days.
NatGeo has more on when, where and how to best catch these cosmic wonders:
The best time to catch sight of the cosmic parade will be between February 28 and March 7. This is when the more elusive planets Mercury and Mars will be at their brightest in the evening sky for 2012, and when the moon will be above the horizon for many hours before setting.
Catching Mercury in particular is notoriously difficult, [Geza Gyuk, an astronomer with the Adler Planetarium in Chicago] said, because the tiny world is the closest to the sun and so never appears very far above the nighttime horizon.
“Follow the line connecting Jupiter to Venus below right, and continue on until you almost reach the horizon,” Gyuk said.
Saturn—which looks like a bright, yellowish star—will rise near local midnight in the east.
According to Gyuk, the best place to view the sky show will be from either a large field or the top of a hill with eastern, western, and southern views.
Space.com reports that Venus and Jupiter specifically will be especially bright getting closer and closer together as the month progresses. By mid-March, Jupiter will pass Venus.
Watch this visual of the planets’ movements from space during the winter months:
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