5 planets will align in a ‘planetary parade’ next week. Here’s how and when to see it
Though we all have differences, there’s one commonality that has prevailed for all of humanity: we are all floating on a rock, flying through outer space at over a million miles an hour.
Thanks to the rapid advancement of technology in the past century, we can observe more of the Universe than ever before.
The scale and sheer size of the Universe make it impossible to truly learn everything, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.
Spring is officially here, and skywatchers are in for a treat as a rare planetary alignment will be visible just one week after the vernal equinox.
Beginning March 25th, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Uranus will align simultaneously within a small 50-degree sector of the sky, according to StarWalk.
A planetary alignment, also referred to as a ‘planetary parade,’ occurs when planets appear to gather in close proximity on one side of the Sun simultaneously.
The planets will align in an arc formation, however you shouldn’t expect a perfectly straight line.
HOW AND WHEN TO WITNESS THE PLANETARY PARADE
The alignment will become visible on March 25, with the optimal day of observation being three days later on March 28.
For the best view of this rare cosmic event, it’s recommended to set up just after sunset. As with any celestial event, the best viewing will be in a clear, unobstructed area away from light pollution.
If that isn’t possible for you, don’t worry. Most of the planets will likely still be visible in areas with light pollution.
Facing westward just after sunset, look to the horizon. The planets nearest the horizon will be Jupiter and Mercury, where they’ll appear right next to each other. These two planets will be visible for only a short time after sunset before they descend below the horizon.
The next planet above Jupiter in the planetary parade will be Venus, which should be easier to spot as it’s the third brightest natural object in our sky.
Next is Uranus, which may be the most difficult of the five planets to find. To locate Uranus, look just above Venus and to the left. This planet may be faint under light polluted skies, so you may need binoculars or a telescope to view it.
The red planet, Mars, will be the final planet in the procession, located above the Waning Crescent moon. Mars should be fairly easy to locate as it will be higher in the sky than any of the others.
For help locating any of the five planets in the alignment, you can use apps like NightSky that utilize your phone’s camera and augmented reality to show you exactly where celestial objects are in the sky.