When will all five bright planets be visible in the sky at once?
The time is now! Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn can be seen simultaneously before dawn beginning around January 20, 2016. And they’ll remain visible before dawn from about January 20 to February 20, 2016.
The last time that all five visible planets appeared in the same sky together was from about December 15, 2004, to January 15, 2005.
That was 10 years ago.
By bright or visible planet, we mean any planet in our own solar system that’s easily viewed without an optical aid and that has been watched by our ancestors since time immemorial.
In their outward order from the sun, the five bright planets are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. These planets are easily seen in our sky because their disks reflect sunlight, and these relatively nearby worlds tend to shine with a steadier light than the distant, twinkling stars.
Moreover, people around the globe can use the moon to help guide them to this showcase of planets from January 27 to February 6. The charts below are for mid-northern North American latitudes, although these planets can be seen in the morning sky from anywhere around the world.
The bright object here is Venus. Saturn is above and to the right. The third bright object in this image – slightly below and to the right of Venus – is the red star Antares in the constellation Scorpius. Photo taken January 11, 2016 by Tom Wildoner in White Haven, Pennsylvania.
Of course, you can catch most of these planets long before dawn. Jupiter rises first, in the evening hours, followed by Mars after midnight and then Saturn, Venus and Mercury. Click here for recommended almanacs that will help you find when each planet rises into your sky for any given date.
May you be blessed with clear skies for the upcoming planetary spectacle, with all five bright planets taking stage in the same sky from January 20 to February 20, 2016!
When will it happen again?
We’ve had a number of people ask us when the next presentation of the five visible planets in the same sky will take place. It will be possible to view all five in theevening sky from about August 13 to 19, 2016. However, Mercury and Venus will be sitting low in the west at dusk and not that easy to catch from northerly latitudes. The Southern Hemisphere definitely has the big advantage for spotting all five planets in the August, 2016 evening sky.
Bottom line: All five bright planets – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn – will appear together in the morning sky from about January 20 to February 20, 2016. That hasn’t happened since 2005.