Here’s everything you need to know to spot 5 planets in a row (and a star cluster) in the Tuesday night sky.

TOLEDO, Ohio – Astronomers and sky watchers witnessed Venus and Jupiter earlier this month seem to cross each other in planetary conjunction. If you still have an appetite for observing interesting astronomical phenomena from the comfort of your own backyard, another wonderful sight awaits you on Tuesday evening.

Just after sunset at 7:54 p.m. Tuesday, you can watch a “planetary parade” in the west, during which five of the seven planets in the solar system (excluding Earth) will appear diagonally. If you have a good view of the western horizon at sunset, you will be able to see the following planets: Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, Uranus and Mars.

How can I identify the planets?

Jupiter can be recognized by its brightness and, if you have powerful binoculars or a telescope, by its four Galilean moons. Mercury will be somewhat dimmer because, although it is much closer to Earth than Jupiter, it is much smaller. Mercury will appear very close to Jupiter.

Shortly after sunset, Jupiter and Mercury will also sink below the horizon. The show continues with Venus, Uranus and Mars, which will remain above the horizon until nightfall. Venus and Uranus do not set until about 10:45 p.m. If you’re a night owl, you can catch Mars before 2:45 a.m. Wednesday, when it will have dipped below the horizon, followed shortly by the moon.

Venus is easily spotted as the brightest object in the night sky, except for the moon. Above it you can see Uranus, which is much rarer than the appearance of other planets in the solar system. If you look at Uranus, it is easily recognized by its blue-green glow. Because it is so far away (over 1 billion miles on average) from Earth, using binoculars or a telescope can help you see Uranus.

What else will be visible in the sky on Tuesday evening?

If you look between Uranus and Mars, another celestial object may catch your eye: a star cluster called the Pleiades. You may also recognize it by another name and logo: Subaru. Pleiades is known as Subaru in Japan and serves as the namesake of a popular car company whose six-star logo depicts a celestial cluster.

According to astronomers, the Pleiades consist of more than 1,000 stars, but only about six can be seen with the naked eye, binoculars and low-powered telescopes. If you are viewing the Pleiades unaided, it can be helpful to look close to them; looking directly at it, the human eye may appear weaker.

The moon will also be high in the sky on Tuesday night. As a waxing crescent moon, it will not eclipse other sky objects like a full moon.

Will the weather cooperate?

The WTOL 11 Weather Team is forecasting partly cloudy skies Tuesday night, so some areas may have an easier time seeing full skies than others.

➡️ Download the WTOL 11 Weather app for the latest local 10-day forecast and live radar!


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