If you enjoy skywatching, there is a spectacle in the western sky these days shortly after sunset.
Christopher Desrochers, who hosts astronomy walks through Jake Epp Library in Steinbach, says a planetary parade made up of five planets, is visible. Those planets are Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Mars and Uranus.
He notes the best time to view the parade is shortly after sunset, while Mercury and Jupiter are still above the horizon. The five planets will appear in a line, with Mercury and Jupiter being the lowest two planets in the sky. Next is Venus and then Uranus, while Mars is higher in the sky and can be found up and to the left of the moon.
Desrochers says planetary alignments occur on average every couple of years, but the configuration in terms of which planets compose the alignment varies. Though he is not sure how often these five planets make up a planetary parade, he says the five naked-eye planets of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn cluster together in the sky within a circle 25 degrees or less in diameter, once every 57 years on average.
Though it is possible to see all five planets with the naked eye, Desrochers says you may want to use binoculars or a telescope tonight. He says Venus is very bright and is easy to pick out and notes Mars is also relatively easy to spot. Desrochers says Mercury and Jupiter may be difficult to see through the bright evening twilight. And, he says Uranus will need a very dark sky to see with the unaided eye.
When determining what are planets and stars in the sky, Desrochers has two tips. He notes planets are typically brighter than stars. The other tip is that planets do not twinkle. He explains stars twinkle as they are so far away, they appear as points of light. When this light moves through the atmosphere it causes the effect that appears to us as twinkling.
Meanwhile, Desrochers says there is another spectacle in the sky these nights. He notes the M35 star cluster can be found just to the left of Mars. Desrochers explains it is about the size of the moon and appears as a glitter of stars or millions of sparking jewels.