Planetary Parade: Watch the Night Sky For a Celestial Line-up This Week

Most of Earth’s residents will get a chance to view five of the galaxy’s planets in a cosmic alignment happening this week.

Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, Mars, and the rarely seen Uranus will all be potentially visible in the night sky to us insignificant Earthlings, reported. However, the number of planets you see will be dependent on the weather and your location.

You don’t even need a telescope for what scientists call a “planetary parade,” though it also helps to have a pair of binoculars, clear skies, and an unobstructed view of the western horizon. (Look near the crescent moon to spot them.)

It’s not a particularly rare event, Jackie Faherty, astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History, told NPR. Such alignments happen once or twice a year. But it’s an exciting moment to stare up at the sky instead of down at our many screens.

“I want people to want to go outside and look up. I want people to be excited about looking up at the stars and planets,” Faherty said. “Right now what’s happening is something that you might not realize does happen quite a bit, which is the planets are up a lot. This is not a particularly rare event, but it is an event that you should celebrate and you should want to go outside and look at.”

Venus the brightest

Residents of Earth’s northern hemisphere likely have a better chance of spotting all five planets, but the rest of the planetary population shouldn’t dismiss the idea of seeing at least a few of these celestial bodies.

Venus will likely be the brightest, and should be easier to spot,. The ruddy hue of Mars will shine brightly near the moon. Mercury and Uranus may appear faint and could require binoculars to see.

Several of the planets will remain visible for the next two weeks.

It is not uncommon for groups of planets to group together. Such “parades” occur when the planets orbit on the same side of the sun as Earth, the CBC reported.

Another five-planet array, with a slightly different lineup of celestial players, will happen in June. And all the planets showed up to the same party last December.

Andrew McLemore

An award-winning journalist and photographer, Andrew McLemore brings more than 14 years of experience to his position as Associate News Editor for Lola Digital Media. Andrew is also a musician, climber and traveler who currently lives in Medellin, Colombia. When he’s not writing, playing gigs or exploring the outdoors, he’s hanging out with his dog Campana.