Three Bright Planets Align In The Morning Sky
On February 16 and 17, 2020, look at the sky to see the line of the moon with three bright planets – Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Here is how, where and when to catch this mini planet parade.
The trio of planets accompanied by the moon will appear in the eastern sky before dawn on Sunday and Monday, February 16 and 17. The red planet Mars will sit at the top, the gas giant Jupiter in the middle, and the ringed Saturn at the very bottom of the string. You can quickly locate these planets in your sky and find out the best viewing time with the stargazing app Star Walk 2.
What to expect?
Observers in almost every part of the world will be able to see the moon, Mars and Jupiter. Depending on your location, you will see or not see Saturn. The ringed planet is better placed for observation from the Southern Hemisphere at this time of year. From the Northern Hemisphere, Saturn sits low above the horizon in the glare of the Sun and therefore is fairly difficult to see. Nevertheless, a good pair of binoculars can help.
How and when to see?
To get a good view, you'll need an unobstructed horizon. The planets should be visible to the naked eye, however, you may need binoculars to see Saturn from the Northern Hemisphere. The first object to rise in the early morning sky is the moon. After the moon goes Mars, then Jupiter and then Saturn. The moon will be to the upper right of Mars, pointing to the line of planets. About 90 minutes before sunrise, the three planets will have climbed above the eastern horizon.
Don’t confuse a bright point of light near the moon with Mars. This is Antares, a red supergiant, the brightest star in the constellation of Scorpius which is easily recognizable with the naked eye. In the morning sky on February 16 and 17 Antares will appear slightly brighter than Mars. Use Star walk 2 not to mix them up.
Clear skies and happy hunting!