30 November 2011

Viewing all 5 Visible Planets in one night

As the nights grow longer and the skies darker, we have the chance for the next few weeks to see all five planets visible to the naked eye in a single night. Of course, there are seven planets in our Solar System (not including Earth), but two (Uranus and Neptune) are just too faint to see without optical aid. However, the rest (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn) are spread around the entire sky, adding a lot of brightness to our already-shiny Autumn and Winter skies. This article in the science blog EarthSky is an excellent guide to help you find each planet. Of course, to find Jupiter and Venus you need little guidance because they are so bright, but Mercury, Saturn and Mars will be easier to find with some assistance from a sky map.

And if you are ready to look deeper and see all 7 in one night, here is a chart to guide you to Uranus and Neptune. They are both just west of Jupiter, in the constellations Pisces and Aquarius.

Image courtesy NASA.


Sidewalk Universe said...

Oh yes it is indeed a great ecliptic show!

The Urban Astronomer said...

I had a lot of fun last night at the California Academy of Sciences showing guests how to visualize the ecliptic across the sky, from Venus, through the Moon, Jupiter and then over to the rising constellations where you can find Mars and then Saturn. All good!