If youre having trouble finding the time to step outside and gaze up at the stars, heres some great news: three of the most powerful planets in our solar system are currently visible in the night sky and they make for an incredible sight if you know where to look!
1) Venus is super bright
The brightest planet Venus rises at sunset, blazing almost directly above us. I’ve been spotting it just below the moon each night. The planets high position means it stays up for hours after dark. The brightness of Venus isnt always so easy to notice because it can blend into sunsets or be completely washed out by moonlight. But at its best, look towards the western horizon right after sunset for a bright star-like object that will appear larger than any other object (other than perhaps Jupiter) in that area of sky.
2) Saturn is easier to see than usual
Right now, if you look to your southern sky after dark, youll be able to see Saturn with your naked eye. The ringed planet is particularly easy to spot due to its brightness. You can also find it with binoculars or a telescope if you like (though moonlight might make that difficult). This is because Saturn is approaching its opposition datethe point when it passes closest to Earth, making it brighter than at any other time of year.
3) Watch for Jupiter near the Moon
Look to see Jupiter sitting a few degrees away from a waxing crescent moonin other words, a thin sliver of a bright object. If you have clear skies and steady vision, you should be able to make out Jupiter with your naked eye. Its going to look like a bright star near our closest celestial neighbor.
Is that Mercury I see?
A small bright star that will be seen low on our southern horizon. This is Mercury. Mercury is not technically a planet; it is called an inferior planet because it orbits closer to the sun than Earth does (Mercury is about 36 million miles from Earth at its closest, while Venus and Mars are about 40 million miles away).
Mars is also making an appearance
Mars, known as the red planet for its distinctive color, is also present. The fiery planet has appeared brighter than usual but the next Mars Close Approach is Dec. 8, 2022, when the Red Planet will be only 38.6 million miles (62.07 million kilometers) from Earth. Mars is currently visible, reaching its highest point in the sky around midnight. Earth’s closest neighbor is also at its brightest and will remain that way well into November. Right now, Mars is the third brightest object in Earth’s night. The Moon and Venus are the two brightest objects, and usually Jupiter is third. So enjoy these next few days to take a look at Mars through your telescope! Its certainly worth it!