Five Worlds at Once


All five planets that can be visible to the naked eye will appear together in the evening sky later this month in a viewing opportunity that won’t be matched for 32 years.

Going in order from West to East, the cast of planetary characters will be Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. All but Mercury are already visible. The winged messenger is the most elusive of the five, being so close to the Sun that it never gets very far above the horizon, and always only near dawn or dusk.

By late March, Mercury will be about as high as possible at dusk for viewers at mid-northern latitudes, setting the stage for a memorable few weeks of easy-to-do backyard skywatching.

Where to look

Mercury will hover above the setting Sun in the West. Higher up, brilliant Venus already dominates the stage, outshining all stars and planets. Mars, much dimmer than it was last summer, is high in the southwestern sky. Saturn is nearly overhead now at dusk and to the south. Jupiter, now stunningly bright, is king of the eastern evening sky, rising just as the Sun goes down.

The story continues, telling us that this is the best viewing of all five naked-eye planets at dusk until 2036.

Venus has been extraordinarily beautiful of late.