This week, a parade of five planets makes its way across the skies.
Skywatchers in dark areas with a clear and unobstructed view of the skies will be able to take in Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Mars and Uranus this week, as long as they have a good set of binoculars at hand. If you can't make it outside tonight or if conditions aren't right in your area, you still have an opportunity to watch this spectacle thanks to a free telescope livestream today.
Astronomer Gianluca Masi of the Virtual Telescope Project will be streaming "Five Planets at a glance" today, offering a view of this planetary parade from Rome, Italy. The livestream begins at 1:45 p.m. EDT (1745 GMT) on Tuesday (March 28) and can be viewed on the Virtual Telescope Project's YouTube page or website.
Space.com columnist Joe Rao gave a comprehensive breakdown on how to view each of the five planets if you are up for attempting this skywatching feat on your own. Two planets, Mercury and Jupiter, could prove difficult as they will be very close to the western horizon at sunset this week. "And that's where your binoculars come in," Rao writes. "If you sight them, congratulate yourself. It is no mean feat to catch two planets positioned so close to the setting sun."
Jupiter, in particular, is moving closer to the setting sun each evening and will soon disappear from view for several weeks. Mercury, meanwhile, will begin to become more visible each evening.
The other three planets in this parade, Venus, Mars and Uranus, are somewhat easier to find. Venus is currently fabulously bright in the evening skies. Look toward the western or northwestern skies each night after sunset to locate this "Evening Star." Uranus will be just a few degrees away from Venus, making this pale green dot stand out through binoculars. And Mars will be very close to the first quarter moon on Tuesday (March 28), making the Red Planet an easy target.
If you're hoping to catch a look at the planetary parade, our guides to the best telescopes and best binoculars are a great place to start. If you're looking to snap photos of the night sky in general, check out our guide on how to photograph the moon, as well as our best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography.