Stargazing is one thing, but seeing the planets is another. If you have your constellation game down, then try honing your planet game. Since these celestial bodies aren’t anywhere near as bright as stars are, seeing them requires good timing, good equipment, and dark skies.
There are still two chances to see Mercury this year. The first, is in the evenings between September 17th until October 8th. And the second is in the early morning between November 3rd and November 23rd. That’s when this planet is brightest and easiest to spot. You’ll have to wake up right before the sun comes up to get the best view.
Venus is the easiest planet to spot in the sky. You can usually see it because unlike stars, it doesn’t twinkle. This planet shines with a steady light during the evenings and mornings. Look to the east in the mornings between now and December 31st to best view our neighboring planet.
This year, you can easily spot Mars in the sky between October 4th and October 17th. It shines with an orange-ish, yellow-ish light, so you can easily tell it apart from the stars. All night, October 13th, Mars will be shining brighter than the brightest star in the sky, so if you want to see the red planet, mark the date!
In the evenings, between July 14th and December 31st of this year, you should be able to see Jupiter. Look for the Sagittarius constellation and you’ll spot a silvery giant behind it. On December 21st, Jupiter comes very close to Saturn, so you should be able to see the two planets together in the sky.
If you have a telescope, look toward Capricornus in the evenings between now and December 31st and you should see a yellow-ish body with rings around it. That’s Saturn! If you’re having trouble finding this planet, go out on December 21st and look for it near Jupiter.