It’s not often that the human eye can view the larger objects of our solar system unaided. Typically, in most parts of the world, you need a telescope to decipher what is or isn't a planet. Starting on March 7, however, several planets will put on what has become known as a “planet parade.” Though they may not march across the sky in a boisterous procession, the planet parade of 2018 will see Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, Mercury and Venus lined up in a row.
Visible to the naked eye, the parade of planets will focus mostly on Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, which can be seen on March 7th and 8th in the Northern Hemisphere. Over those two days, the moon will move among the planets, eventually landing between Mars and Jupiter towards the end of the parade.
To glimpse the celestial event, you’ll need to be in Earth’s Northern Hemisphere on March 7 and 8 or in the Southern Hemisphere on March 18 and 19. The sky will need to be pitch black to be able to see the glowing orbs and The Weather Channel suggests that stargazers step outside and look to the stars in the post-sunset and pre-dawn hours. Typically, within an hour after midnight is the best time for viewing.
The first planet you can expect to see is Jupiter, which EarthSky.org attributes as the brightest. Closer to dawn, Mars and Saturn will be more visible. Mercury and Venus, while part of the planetary procession, will come into view between March 18 and 20. EarthSky.org explains that Venus is 12 times brighter than Mercury and will help viewers pinpoint the location of the solar system’s smallest planet.
If you can’t watch the planet parade live, see who may be streaming it here.