Five planets in our solar system will be visible from Earth at the same time in March.
It looks like the next few months are going to be a treat for stargazers, with several planetary alignments on the way in 2023.
A planetary alignment can be one of two events. according to astronomy app Star Walk.
The first is an astronomical event whereby planets gather closely on one side of the Sun at the same time, as seen from above the solar system.
And the second is visual phenomenon, which involves the perspective from earth as the planets appear close together in a small area of the sky.
On March 28 though, it will be a bumper night for fans of all things space, as Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, Uranus and Mars are all set to gather in a small 50-degree sector.
Star Walk advises to start observations soon after sunset using binoculars to see Jupiter on a magnitude of -2.1 and Mercury on a magnitude of -1.3 from the horizon, which will look like “two bright objects” in the constellation of Pisces.
Higher up in the sky in the Aries constellation, astronomy fans will see Venus with a magnitude of -4.0.
With a magnitude of 5.8, Uranus will be a little bit harder to see (we’ll let you make your own jokes there), but should still be visible if you’re in a good location and have a strong set of binoculars.
Mars will be just as tricky to spot as it joins the alignment higher up near the Moon in the constellation of Gemini.
You’ll still be able to spot all five of the planets a few days after March 28 as well, if you’ve got a telescope to hand.
So, what’s the best location to be in to have the best chance of seeing the planets?
Rick Feinberg, senior contributing editor for Sky & Telescope and senior advisor to the American Astronomical Society, spoke with Fox 35 about just this.
He said: “Unless you have a clear sky and a nearly flat western horizon free of obstructions such as trees or buildings, you won’t see Jupiter and Mercury,” he said.
This is because the two will only be visible from very low in the west just after sunset.
But if your situation does meet the criteria, you could potentially see all five planets using just binoculars.
Venus will be the brightest, noted Fienberg, while Uranus will be a the hardest to spot without solid equipment.
Mars, on the other hand, will be visible from high in the southwest sky and will have an orange hue.
“On the 27th the not-quite-quarter moon is below and to the right of Mars,” he said. “On the 28th the first quarter moon is above and to the left of Mars.”