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Planet Parade Visible in the Night Sky this Month

May 14, 2014 10:21 AM EDT
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A planet parade, consisting of four of the five planets visible to the naked eye, will be in full view this month - a sight you do not want to miss.

Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn will all line up across the sky, along with the full moon, following the same path the sun does during the day - called the ecliptic.

According to The Space Reporter, Mercury will start the parade tonight (May 14) about a half hour after sunset. A planet that ordinarily orbits the Sun so closely that it is almost never visible to the naked eye, Mercury will be the rarest appearance this month. It will glow as a small, yellow or orange dot amidst the sunset.

Just east of Mercury will be the white glow of Jupiter, our largest planet. If you have a telescope, you might even be able to view four of its many moons.

To the southeast, Mars will be visible, and just to its left gazers may see Saturn glowing a light yellow. But if you want to see Saturn's famous rings or the Red Planet's polar ice cap, you will need to grab a telescope.

The rising moon and Saturn mark the midpoint of the night: they will be high in the southern sky at midnight ET, Space.com reports.

But that does not end the "solar marathon." Starting Thursday morning (May 15), Venus will have risen, followed by Neptune and Uranus, which will be visible for a short period of time and only if you are at-least using binoculars.

Astronomers note that viewers should check local weather reports to ensure clear skies for optimal planet gazing. Mercury will be the most difficult to spot, as it sits close to the horizon where mountains or tall buildings may shield it from view. However, it will be in the best viewing position May 24, and can be seen for a week after that. All the other planets have a wider range of visibility, The Space Recorder added.

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