Planet alignment: what time is it, what does it look like and where to see the planetary parade tonight
On 28 March, the sky will show a rare and spectacular event as five planets from the solar system will be visible in the night sky.
A unique solar phenomenon is taking place this week, and there is still time to check it out —particularly for those who live in areas where light pollution doesn’t overwhelm the sky where you are.
What is planetary alignment?
Rather unsurprisingly, a five-planet alignment occurs when five planets in our solar system: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, appear close together in the sky. While these planets do not actually line up in a straight line, they will appear close enough in the sky to create the illusion of a line connecting them. These events are rare, and they typically occur once every few decades. The last such alignment occurred on 28 December 2022, but this was just four planets.
“Perhaps the hardest to see with your eye will be the planet Mercury, [which] will be the one closest to the horizon, and right beside it will be a brighter object, planet Jupiter,” said Bill Cooke, who has a PhD in astronomy and heads NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center.
What can still be seen on 29 and 30 March?
Viewers who missed the events on Monday, 27 March, and Tuesday, 28 March, will miss the alignment, but there is still time to get a better view of some of the planets.
NASA reports that on Wednesday, 29 March, those hoping to catch a glimpse of the night sky will see Jupiter and Mars shift westward, with Venus moving “slowly [in] the other direction.” Mercury will also make its appearance “above the west-northwestern horizon as evening twilight ends, joining Venus in shifting higher each evening.” Those looking for Mars will
How to watch the planetary alignment
The best way to watch a five-planet alignment is to find a location with a clear view of the horizon and as little light pollution as possible and to observe the event during the pre-dawn or post-sunset hours. A pair of binoculars or a telescope might be useful to get a better view.