2018 Planet Parade: When and where to watch as five planets light up the night sky - Macleans.ca

2018 Planet Parade: When and where to watch as five planets light up the night sky

Starting March 7 the five brightest planets—Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn—will be present for viewing in Canada

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(NASA)

If you were amazed by this year’s Super Blue Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse, then you’re sure to be mesmerized by the upcoming Planet Parade.

What is the Planet Parade?  

It’s a celestial gathering where the brightest planets light up the evening sky. In 2016, we were able to see five planets shine at the exact same time. No such luck this year, but regardless, we’re in for one stellar event.

Luckily for us Canucks in the Northern Hemisphere, this parade kicks off on March 7. But if you live in the Southern Hemisphere, you won’t get a good glance at the planets until April.

What planets will be visible? 

In 2018, five bright planets will be present – though not necessarily at the same time – for your viewing pleasure. When we say “bright planets,” we’re referring to solar system planets that are easily visible to the naked eye. This includes the following planets: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

WATCH: David Saint-Jacques talks space exploration and what it takes to become an astronaut

When can we see the bright planets? 

In the Northern Hemisphere, stargazers can catch the five bright planets during post-sunset or predawn hours.

To see Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, direct your gaze eastward to watch them as they ascend into your sky on March 7 and March 8. According to Earthysky.org, Jupiter can be easily spotted after it rises over the eastern horizon within an hour or so after midnight. Red Mars and golden Saturn, however, are much dimmer and won’t rise until it’s close to dawn.

What about Mercury and Venus? You’ll be able to spot them quite easily after sunset, in the evening hours, on March 18th and 19th. Venus and Mercury are relatively close in the sky’s dome, but chances are you’ll spot Venus first. Why? Because it’s more than ten times brighter than Mercury right now.

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