On the nights between March 25th and March 30th, a parade of planets will occur in the night sky. A rare cosmic event will feature a procession of five planets: Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, Uranus, and Mars.
Jupiter may be lost in the sunset after March 28th, so it’s best to view this cosmic event before that day. Timing, dark skies, and a clear view of the horizon will be crucial to spotting all five planets in one night.
Where to see this rare procession
Some of these planets are likely visible from the city. Venus will be the easiest to spot with the naked eye, as it’s the third brightest object in the sky after the Sun and Moon. However, other planets such as Uranus and Mercury may be more difficult to see. The best chances of viewing will come from getting away from city lights, finding a location with dark skies, and arriving before sunset. It’s also important to check the weather and plan an outing for a clear, cloudless evening.
For optimal viewing of this rare cosmic event of planets procession, it’s best to look from an unobstructed viewpoint on the western horizon. So no mountains or buildings blocking the sunset. You’ll need to scan low on the horizon to spot Jupiter and Mercury. While most of the planets will be visible with the naked eye, you’ll need binoculars or even a telescope for others.
In particular, these tools will be useful for viewing Uranus and getting the entire procession of the five planets. A simple way to quickly identify the planets is to download an astronomy app, which will show exactly where each planet is located in the sky.
The succession of planets
Shortly after the sun has dropped below the horizon, Jupiter and Mercury will appear side by side low in the sky. The remaining sunlight may make them difficult to see with the naked eye, so it’s best to use binoculars if you can’t spot them. The duo will be visible for less than an hour after sunset. After that, they will sink below the horizon and won’t be visible.
Next, it will be time to admire Venus, the brightest object in the night sky, suspended above Jupiter. The planet will also be the reference point for finding Uranus with binoculars. Uranus will be just to the upper left of Venus. It will be possible to admire it well after all the sunlight has faded from the sky, taking Jupiter and Mercury with it. You’ll have an hour or two to search for it before this pair also sinks into the sunset, below the horizon.
At the same time, you’ll have all the time to check out the red planet, Mars. It will appear bright red and high in the southwestern sky, above the crescent moon from March 25th to 27th, below our satellite on March 28th, and beyond.