On Tuesday, March 28, 2023, a rare cosmic event is set to light up the night sky, with five planets – Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, Uranus, and Mars – perfectly aligning at the same time, along with the Moon and a beautiful star cluster known as Messier 35 (M35). This will be the first planetary alignment since June 2022, when Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn were seen together in a unique event that had not occurred in two decades.
While the previous “parade of planets” was easier to spot with the naked eye, the best way to see this one is to use binoculars and look west approximately 20 minutes after sunset. While Venus – the third brightest object in the sky, after the Sun and the Moon – will be quite easy to see with the naked eye, some of the other planets, such as Uranus and Mercury may be more difficult to spot, particularly from the proximity of city lights. Moreover, since Jupiter and Mercury will only be visible for less than an hour before they disappear over the western horizon, passionate stargazers should make sure they don’t miss this window of opportunity.
Jupiter and Mercury will appear near the horizon, at a magnitude of -1.2 and -1.3, respectively, and will be located in the constellation Pisces, separated by approximately one degree. Higher up in the sky, Venus will shine brightly from the constellation Aries, with a magnitude of -4.0. While these three planets will be easily visible with the naked eye, binoculars might be necessary to spot Uranus, located at about 2° from Venus and shining with a magnitude of 5.8. Finally, Mars will join the parade higher in the sky, close to the first quarter Moon in the constellation Gemini, at a magnitude of 0.9.
Although March 28 is the perfect time for observing this celestial event, the alignment will be visible a few days before and after that date. “Don’t forget to look to the sky the end of the month for the planetary alignment which will have at least five planets – plus the Moon – all visible in almost an arc shape as seen from Earth,” world-famous former astronaut Buzz Aldrin tweeted.
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