How to see five planets in the night sky without a telescope
The planets Mars and Saturn – along with the star Antares in the constellation Scorpius – have made a prominent triangle on our sky’s dome over the past few months. Mars is now passing in between Saturn and Antares the three objects will appear appear in a straight line in our sky on August 24.
Recall that that Mars and Saturn are planets, while Antares is a star. Mars is about 7 light-minutes from Earth (79 million miles, or 127 million km). Saturn is about 82 light-minutes (914 million miles, or 1,470 million km). Antares – being a star, and not an object in our own solar system – is vastly farther away at about 550 light-years.
After the Mars-Saturn conjunction on August 24, be sure to keep an eye on this trio of objects as darkness falls each night. Mars will travel farther and farther east of Saturn and Antares.
By the way, three other planets – Jupiter, Mercury and Venus – are also up after sunset. If you see them, you’ll be seeing all five planets visible to the unaided eye from Earth. Look soon, though. Mercury will soon disappear, especially as seen from Northern Hemisphere skies (it’ll stay visible a few more week’s from Earth’s Southern Hemisphere).
Meanwhile, Jupiter and Venus are about to have a spectacular conjunction! It’ll come on August 27. Read more about the Jupiter-Venus conjunction, check out the chart below … and check back at this link later for more photos and details.
(This article originally appeared on Earthsky.org)