Make sure you have some coffee handy, because you’re going to need it tomorrow.
The three planets closest to Earth (Venus, Mars and Jupiter) will become visible to the naked eye this week, but the best viewing will take place on the morning of November 3. Fortunately, there won’t be any telescopes or fancy gear required to enjoy the show, but you will need to wake up right at the crack of dawn to see the planets at their best.
Here’s how to get the best seat in the house:
- Wake up about an hour before local sunrise, and look east (toward the sun).
- The three planets will look similar to stars. Venus will be the brightest, so that’s the one you should look for first.
- Once you think you’ve found it, a reddish star should be just to the left. That’s Mars.
- If you can see both, it’s safe to assume you’re looking at the right place.
- Then, above the other two, you’ll find Jupiter. Which should look like another bright star.
The image below should give you an idea of what to expect (just keep in mind it’s from 2008 and doesn’t include Mars):
They might look a little small and insignificant but the last time space put on this show for us was in 1991, and Earthlings won’t get to see it again until roughly 2035. In other words, set your alarm, and don’t even think about hitting the “snooze” button.
“All three are so close together. I mean, you could cover all three planets with just your fist at arm’s length,” National Geographic Astronomy Columnist Andrew Fazekas says in the video above.
On Tuesday, however, they’ll be so close that Fazekas says you’ll be able to cover them with just your thumb. It’s pretty insane that we’ll be able to see these planets at all though, considering Jupiter is more than 600 million kilometres away from Earth.