The lineup has been dubbed a “conjunction” in astronomy circles, which is just a gathering of several planets and the moon in one spot that appears to be nearby from the perspective of Earth. The term “parade” probably came about because it looks like they are marching across the sky together — but they’re actually at varying distances from us. Mercury will appear closest to the horizon each night during this parade, while Uranus will be highest up. To ensure you don’t miss out on an opportunity to participate in this spectacle, check your local weather forecast for clear skies!
This alignment is especially unique due to the number of planets that will be visible at once. The five naked-eye planets are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Usually, only three or four are visible at a given time, Hummels said. In addition to those planets, Uranus and Neptune can also be seen with binoculars or a telescope if you’re lucky enough to have access to one in your area. Hummels encourages people who want to see this event not just for its scientific beauty but also as an opportunity for contemplation—to look up into the night sky and remember how small we all really are in such an immense universe. As he puts it: “It’s like looking into eternity.”
The display will also include Mars, the red planet. It won’t be as bright as Venus and Uranus, but it should still be visible to the naked eye — though it’s best to use binoculars or a telescope for an optimal viewing experience. Saturn will appear slightly below Mars, golden in color with its iconic rings visible through a telescope. Jupiter, meanwhile, will appear off to the right of Mars and may look like a small star-like object — again, better seen with binoculars or a telescope.
The spectacle is a perfect opportunity for stargazers of all experience levels to get out and enjoy some time under the stars. Hummels also noted that it’s “pretty rare” to see such an alignment, so make sure you take advantage while you can! All you need is a clear night sky and your eyes – no telescope necessary.
The ringed planet Saturn will be visible all night as it rises just before sunset and sets around sunrise. It should appear in the southeast after dark and remain fairly low on the horizon throughout the night, Hummels said. By 3 a.m., Saturn should be directly above you in the south-southeast sky.
This alignment rarely happens, so it’s a great opportunity for sky-watchers to witness the cosmic phenomenon. The planets will look like bright stars in the night sky and can be seen with the naked eye from any location on Earth; binoculars or telescopes are unnecessary. First, locate brilliant Venus in the western sky after sunset to find Jupiter and Saturn. Then use your fist to measure about 10 degrees away towards the upper left to find Jupiter, which appears slightly brighter than its surroundings. Finally, trace another 10 degrees to arrive at Saturn, which is much dimmer but still visible without any optical aid.