On Tuesday, March 28, five of the solar system’s eight planets—Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, Uranus, and Mars—will be visible together in a rare planetary alignment.
What makes this event so special is that it offers the chance to see almost the entire solar system in a single night. The next alignment featuring this many planets won’t occur until 2040, making it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for some.
Planetary alignments may have been the subject of wild theories and speculation in the past, but in reality, they are simply spectacular celestial spectacles. The planets in our solar system all appear on the ecliptic, an invisible arc across the sky tracing the plane where everything orbits the sun. When planets are close enough together, they appear to be in an almost straight line, as they will be on March 28.
To witness this extraordinary event, head outside right after sunset and find a clear view of the western horizon. Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, Uranus, and Mars will be visible within 50 degrees of each other, offering an unmatched opportunity to appreciate the vastness of our cosmic neighborhood.
With the naked eye, you should be able to see at least three of the planets—Jupiter, Venus, and Mars—while using binoculars or a telescope will reveal Mercury and Uranus. Venus and Uranus will remain visible for about three hours after sunset, while Mars will stay out past midnight.
In addition to the planets, the waning crescent moon, the Pleiades star cluster, and the Messier 35 star cluster will also be visible, providing even more reasons to venture out into the night. To spot these celestial wonders, a decent pair of binoculars or a telescope is recommended.
Don’t miss this rare opportunity to observe our planetary neighbors and the beauty of the cosmos. Make sure to mark your calendar for Tuesday, March 28, and join countless others in appreciating the majesty of the universe. Happy stargazing!