At about 5 a.m., the planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, respectively, can be seen from Earth. In a straight line for the first time since 2004.
It is rare to see all five planets at the same time, due to the different orbits around the sun. Mercury takes approximately 88 days to complete its orbit and Venus takes 224.7 days, while Mars takes an Earth year, 320 days, and 18.2 hours. It goes without saying that the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn take longer, because they are so far from the Sun. Jupiter revolves around the sun in 11.86 years and Saturn in 29 and a half years.
Since the night sky is also filled with bright stars, it can be difficult to spot planets with the naked eye (or perhaps with binoculars or telescopes). From 4.30pm you can identify the planets if you look to the east/southeast. With binoculars, the rings of Saturn should be visible, after which you can also more easily spot other cascading plants in the lower left of Saturn.
Venus is very bright in the sky and Jupiter is known to be very large. The red planet Mars naturally has a red glow, on the other hand Mercury will be more difficult to identify. The planet is very small and dangles above the horizon. By the way, the moon is located exactly between Venus and Mars. But get there early, because before you know it, the sun will rise again and you’ll have missed the planet’s row.
“The best time is when the twilights are still a little bit. It’s not quite light yet, but not quite dark either,” says Philippe Mollet of the Mira observatory. “Then look east and make sure you are in an open space. Even houses and trees can get in your way.” However, according to Mollet, it will not be easy to determine Mercury. “The chance is very small. I can say with confidence that many experienced amateur astronomers must admit that they have not seen Mercury very often,” says Mollet. “This symmetrical shape won’t be perfect anymore, and there are actually better moments to spot Mercury.”