5 planets visible at once to Earthlings this week
Morning skywatchers will get a special treat over the next few weeks as five of the solar system's other eight planets will all be visible at once with the naked eye in the chilly, pre-dawn sky, weather permitting.
The five bright planets that will be lined up in a diagonal line, from left to right, are Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter. Only distant Uranus, Neptune and Pluto won't be in on the show. (While Neptune and Pluto can only be seen with a telescope, Uranus can occasionally be spotted with a sharp eye in a dark sky).
The stars Antares and Spica will also twinkle in the same part of the sky.
This is the first time that the five planets will appear in the same sky together since January 2005, according to EarthSky.org.
All five bright planets will appear together in the morning sky from about January 20 to February 20. The waning crescent moon will also make an appearance toward the end of January.
Of course, bundling up will be crucial, as this celestial spectacle occurs during what are typically the coldest hours of the day during some of the coldest weeks of the year.
You can check if the sky will be cloudy or clear over the next few days on this National Weather Service forecast page. At the left under forecast element, click on "Sky Cover" and hit play (blue means clear skies and gray means cloudy skies.)
Some good news for folks not wanting to brave the cold: These five planets will be in the evening sky later this year, from about Aug. 13 to 19, according to EarthSky.org. However, Mercury and Venus will be low in the west at dusk and not that easy to spot.