Skywatchers: Seven planet parade marks the end of 2022


On Wednesday night the planet parade was in full view. This is an astronomical event where the planets of the solar system line up in the sky with planets visible from the Earth. And it is known as a “planet parade.”

Skywatchers can see Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn with the naked eye. And with a pair of binoculars or a telescope, Uranus and Neptune line up.

The parade started on Friday, Dec. 23. And will reach conjunction where they are closest on December 29 when all eight planets will be visible 1.5 degrees apart.

 The moon joined the planet parade, appearing as a waxing crescent between Jupiter and Saturn.

A planet parade usually happens every 9 to 18 months. And this year we already had an eight-planet alignment in June.

To get the best views of the phenomenon, look southward after sunset. From east to west, the planets appear in this order: Mars, Uranus, Jupiter, Neptune, Saturn, Mercury, and Venus.

Vahé Peroomian, professor of astronomy and physics at the University of Southern California said “People should look southward about 30 to 45 minutes after sunset to catch Mercury and Venus before they’re too close to the horizon to observe. Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars will be visible once it gets dark, from southeast to east.”

Planet Parade viewing

Gianluca Masi, an astronomer with the Virtual Telescope Project astronomer, Gianluca said that “These nights, we can see all the planets of our solar system at a glance, soon after sunset. It happens from time to time, but it is always a spectacular sight.’