Guide to viewing the planets: Winter and spring 2021

While stars twinkle, planets do not twinkle, helping you pick them out in the sky. They're usually bright, with Venus and Jupiter being the brightest. 


Notorious for being difficult to observe, Mercury is usually very low to the horizon and typically will only be visible for an hour or so before it sets. If you are dead set on seeing Mercury, try to get to a nice flat area, devoid of any horizon-blocking obstacles like trees or buildings. 


Usually the brightest in the sky, it will therefore be easy to pick out as well. It usually has a silvery color to it. Venus was often called both the ‘morning’ and ‘evening’ star, depending on when it was visible. It does not last long in the sky, quickly either setting (if it appears in the evening) or being outshone by the sun (if it appears in the morning).


Shining with a reddish-orange in the sky, Mars can change in brightness by a fair margin depending on the time of observation. It will get smaller and harder to see as the year goes on, so if you want to view Mars consider doing so earlier into this year for a more brilliant viewing. 


Shining with a strong silver-white color, Jupiter is the largest of the planets and the second brightest, only being outshined by Venus. If you have a telescope, you may be able to pick out some of its moons! It will be close to Saturn in the constellation of Capricorn for all of the observing season. It will be to the left of Saturn. 


Usually seen with Jupiter, Saturn looks similar to Jupiter but Is a bit dimmer and more yellow. It will be close to Jupiter and will be in the constellation of Capricorn for the entirety of this observing season. If you want to see the rings, you will need a telescope. It will be to the right of Jupiter.

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