The night sky displays all kinds of celestial bodies that are always changing. You can see stars, clusters, moons, meteors, and sometimes planets. There are five planets from the Solar System that can be seen with the naked eye because they are very bright, namely Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. These planets can be seen all year round. However, sometimes the position of these planets is too close to the sun so it is difficult to see. All the planets will not appear at once in one night. The schedule changes every month, but there are some trends in viewing planets in the night sky.
Part 1 of 3: Knowing the Space Objects You're Looking For
Step 1. Distinguish between stars and planets
Planets are usually much brighter than stars. The position of the planet is closer to the earth so that it looks like a disc, instead of a small dot.
Step 2. Look for a bright planet
Even though they are in their emergence period, some planets are difficult to see unless they are bright planets. Jupiter and Saturn are always easier to see.
Step 3. Know the color you're looking for
Each planet reflects sunlight differently. You need to know the color of the planet you are looking for in the night sky.
- Mercury: This planet flashes, and emits a bright yellow light.
- Venus: People often mistake Venus for a UFO because of its large size and silver color.
- Mars: This planet is reddish in color.
- Jupiter: Jupiter glows white throughout the night. This is the second brightest point in the night sky.
- Saturn: This planet appears small and yellowish-white in the night sky.
Part 2 of 3: Finding the Right Point
Step 1. Learn how light affects the sky
Planets and stars in the night sky are easier to see if you live in a remote area. For city dwellers, this is more difficult due to light pollution. Try to find a place away from artificial light coming from buildings.
Step 2. Find the right part of the sky
Planets are rarely close to each other in the night sky. You have to know the exact location to see it. A great way to find them is to look for them as they appear as part of a star cluster.
- Mercury: Mercury will appear near the sun. Mercury is difficult to see year-round because it is usually blocked by sunlight, but you can see it clearly in mid-August.
- Mars: Appears low in the morning sky and is moving towards the east.
- Jupiter: Jupiter is always far from the sun.
- Saturn: Look for the brightest planet at the bottom of the Libra cluster.
Step 3. Consider the position of the earth
The planets have their own periods of appearance, but they can be earlier in the eastern hemisphere and later at night in the western hemisphere. When looking for the period of occurrence, consider the part of the earth from where you are viewing the night sky.
Part 3 of 3: Seeing at the Right Time
Step 1. Find the period of the planet's appearance
The period of appearance is when the planets can be seen from Earth. The duration can last from a few weeks to two years. You can search through the astronomical catalog to find out the period of appearance of a planet
Step 2. Know when to see the planets
Most planets are easiest to see when the sky is darkening (twilight) or starting to lighten (dawn). However, you can also find them in the night sky. You need to look when it is very late at night, when the sky is very dark.
Step 3. Know when the planet can be seen every night
Combine the period of the planet's appearance with the period of the planet's most visible to determine the best time to see the planet you want
- Mercury: the planet is clearly visible several times a year. This year, usually Mercury can be seen in September and December.
- Mars: Mars can be seen in the dawn sky. Starting from August, Mars will climb high into the sky and continue throughout the year. The higher the position of Mars, the brighter the light.
- Jupiter: This planet is most easily seen at dawn. In 2015, Jupiter appeared in mid-September and continued for months within the boundary of the Leo cluster.
- Saturn: look for Saturn in the evening sky. Saturn will appear in the night sky in November and will appear in the morning sky towards the end of the year.
- Get ready. Apart from the summer months, dress warmer than you might expect.
- Stay away from light pollution. Secluded areas are best for viewing the night sky.