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Diagram of the planets in the solar system with the planet's names. Alamy Stock Photo
Solar System

All the planets in the solar system visible tonight and tomorrow night

While the chances of seeing Venus and Saturn are gone for tonight, Jupiter is still visible.

ALL THE PLANETS in the solar system have lined up tonight and while some are difficult to see, “technically someone who has the skill could see all the planets”.

David Moore, editor of Astronomy Ireland, adds that people will also have a chance to see all the planets again tomorrow night as well.

While those who live in the southern hemisphere will have an easier time in spotting the planets, Moore says it is much harder to do so in Ireland.

He adds that he waited for the opportune moment to view the planets this evening but clouds got in the way of his view.

However, the editor of Astronomy Ireland pointed out that “Jupiter is blazing next to the moon” and this can currently be viewed with the naked eye.

Moore told The Journal that it’s “pretty rare” that the planets are visible at the same time.

Five planets are visible with the naked eye, but the two furthest away, Uranus and Neptune, will be best viewed with binoculars.

“Neptune is very dim, it’s just to the right of Jupiter,” says Moore. “You need a good pair of binoculars to see that, but I prefer looking at it with a telescope. And Uranus, you would also need a pair of binoculars to see that.

“It’s a bit quirky because some of these planets, you can never see with the naked eye, but there are all up in the horizon at the same time and all we need is a clear sky.

“However, to get a clear sky in Ireland down to the horizon is actually quite rare, it’s about one in every nine nights that that happens.”

While the chances of seeing Venus and Saturn are gone for tonight as the planets have set, Moore has good news as all of the planets will also be visible tomorrow night.

“It’s not one night only, it’s for several nights in fact,” he explained.

Moore had this advice for stargazers who want to get the best view tomorrow: “If you want to see them all, you’re definitely going to have to have somewhere with a clear southwest horizon, because that’s where Venus and Mercury are.

“They’re very close to one another and very low down soon after sunset, which is around 4.30pm. So you need to be ready from then.

“In Ireland, Venus then sets at 5.30pm, so you have an hour between sunset and Venus setting, so there will be twilight for that hour and you’re going to be looking very low.

“If you’ve got any trees or houses in that direction, you just wouldn’t see it, so on top of a hill or anywhere that’s got no trees or houses towards the southwest is best.”

While Moore says “it’s tricky”, he adds: “These are doable with a naked eye. Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars, you can see them now if you have a reasonable sky.”

He also offered this advice for people hoping to catch a glimpse of the planets tonight.

“Jupiter is near the moon tonight and doesn’t set until midnight. So anyone who looks at the moon tonight will see a brilliant star to its right.

“It’s the brightest star in the whole sky and it’s actually the planet Jupiter, and that is tonight only.

“If you’re not interested in astronomy, you’re missing out. If people indoors are watching the TV tonight, if you just opened the back door and looked up at the moon, they’d see Jupiter sitting right next to the moon.

“There are a lot of clear skies over Ireland tonight and it would be a tragedy for people to miss this beautiful spectacle of nature.”

Moore also informed The Journal of some things to look out for in the coming weeks.

“On 3 January, the planet Mars will be even closer to the moon, which is very rare.

“Mars is a very bright star, the brightest star in the in the whole sky and it’s going to be sitting just on top of the moon on Tuesday night, so the New Year kicks off in really spectacular fashion.

“And anyone who’s got a telescope, on New Year’s Day the moon is going to pass in front of the planet Uranus, as seen from Ireland, so the next few days are crazy for astronomers.

“There’s a new comet coming as well that we’re hoping is going to be faintly visible to the naked eye at the end of January.

“Right now you need binoculars to see it but it is coming closer to the Earth and in late January and early February we could have a comet in the sky that people can see without binoculars. That’s a very rare occurrence that only happens a few times a decade.”

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