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What Planets are Visible Tonight? The Indispensable Astronomer’s Guide to Finding and Seeing the Planets in 2019

Some of the best telescope views of the night sky come from the planets, particularly the five planets visible to the naked eye.

But, you wonder, which planets are out tonight and where should I look to see them?

Well, showing you which planets are visible tonight and where to look for them is what this guide is all about.

Use the 'Quick Navigation' box to get details on the planet of your choice.

Okay, let's jump in and discover which planets we can see tonight.


Introducing... The Planets

There are eight official planets in our solar system (if you thought there were nine, read this). We live on one of them, which leaves seven for us to look at in the night sky.

From the sun outwards, they are Mercury, Venus, [Earth], Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

The Five Visible Planets

The five planets closest to us are bright enough to be easily seen in the night sky with the naked eye. You can easily learn to photograph planets too.

For that reason, these are collectively known as the five visible planets. From closest to the sun, outwards, the five visible planets are:

  • Mercury
  • Venus
  • [Earth]
  • Mars
  • Jupiter
  • Saturn

All of the planets look wonderful through a telescope, with many different and dynamic features to try and observe.

If you've never seen the awesome sight of Jupiter's cloud belts, Saturn's rings and Mars's ice caps, then it's time you checked out our review of the best telescopes to see the planets (opens in a new tab).

The Outer Planets

Technically these can be naked-eye visible but, unless you know where to look, they are not bright enough to be distinguishable from the background of brighter stars.

There are two outer planets: Neptune and Uranus.

We show you if you can see Neptune and Uranus tonight, but you will need at least binoculars and ideally a telescope to see their disc and any color.


Seeing The Five Visible Planets in 2019

All 5 visible planets have great seeing at some point during this year, which you can see at a glance by scrolling down to the table below.

Before reading it though, it helps to understand why there are times when the planets are well placed for observing and others when they are not visible.

Imagine the five planets split across two groups, the inferior and superior planets:

  • Inferior Planets: Mercury and Venus lie inside Earth's orbit, closer to the sun
  • Superior Planets: Mars, Jupiter and Saturn lie outside Earth's orbit, further from the sun

When to See the Inferior Planets

Alignment of Mercury and Venus

Moon, Venus and Mercury (credit below)

Mercury and Venus orbit the sun inside of the path of Earth, which means a number of significant things:

  • They orbit faster than Earth, so they change position in the sky quickly
  • They present crescent phases to us, like the moon, because we can see them ‘from behind’
  • The best time to see them is at ‘greatest elongation’, which is when they appear to be at their farthest from the sun as we see them. 

The worst time to see the inferior planets is when they are in conjunction. This is the name given to the moment when Earth, the sun and the planet are all in a straight line.

There are two types of planetary conjunction:

  1. Superior conjunctions happen when the planet is on the opposite side of the sun from us, and
  2. Inferior conjunctions are when the planet sits between us and the sun

See both of these highlighted with the red rings on the diagram below.

Planets are invisible to us at and near conjunctions because they are lost in the glare of the sun.

The rare exception to this is when an inferior conjunction happens and the planet is on the same plane as us and the sun. When that happens we see a spectacular transit of Venus or Mercury across the face of the sun.

Sadly, they are quite rare. To see Venus pass in front of the sun you need to be a young person, and ideally not even born yet because there are 98 years to go before the next one.

Fortunately, we all stand a good chance of seeing little Mercury cross the sun’s disc on November 11th this year, the last such chance until 2032.

The best time to see Venus and Mercury is when they are at greatest elongation, shown as pink rings on the diagram below. At greatest elongation, they are as far from the sun as they get from our perspective on Earth.

For Mercury, that still normally means challenging viewing. It orbits so close to the sun that it is rarely visible for more than an hour before sunrise or after sunset, so we are finding the planet in the glow of dusk or dawn.

Venus orbits further out, so we do get to see it against the inky blackness of night, but it too sets or rises within a few hours of the sun.

Which brings us to the final point you need to be aware of, planet hunter: at greatest eastern elongation, the planet is visible after sunset. At its greatest western elongation, we'll see the planet in the morning, before sunrise.

When is the Best Time to See A Planet?

The diagram below shows an idealised position of inferior planets (inner ring) and superior planets (outer ring) hitting conjunction, greatest elongation and opposition with Earth (blue circle, middle ring).

A guide to the conjunctions, oppositions and elongations of the inferior and superior planets.

A guide to conjunctions, oppositions and elongations. (Original source)

You can see that at conjunctions the planet is in the same line of sight as the sun, so it's not possible for us to see it in the sky; the sun's glare is too bright. The best time to see superior planets is at opposition, when they are in the sky all night. The best time to see inferior planets is at their Greatest Elongation.

When to See The Superior Planets

Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune all orbit further away from the sun that our own planet does. For this reason, these planets are called superior and they have a different character in the sky from the inferior Mercury and Venus:

  • They take longer to complete an orbit of the sun than Earth, which makes them appear to move only slowly across the night sky, i.e. they only move a short distance compared to the background constellations
  • Being inside their orbit, we can only see the side facing the sun, so they are always a complete disc. i.e. we never see them in crescent form
  • The best time to see the superior planets is at inferior conjunction

Just like Mercury and Venus, the superior planets also form conjunctions with Earth and the sun. And, unsurprisingly, they too are invisible at this time because they are close to the sun in our sky.

The best time to see the outer planets of the solar system is opposition. If you refer to the diagram above, it's easy to see why (green circle).

Unlike the inferior planets, the outer planets never pass between Earth and the sun. At opposition, we sit directly between them and the sun, which we find easiest to think of as the sun being 'behind' us with the planet 'facing' us.

This is an awesome time for planet-watching. A planet at opposition is visible all night long!

Right, that's more than enough understanding of why we can or can't see the planets tonight. Let's turn now to the most important part of this article: which planets can we see tonight?


What Planets are Visible Tonight?

If you want to know "what planets can I see tonight?" then the table below is the perfect solution for you.

It shows which of the five visible planets can be seen tonight for each month in 2019. It includes opposition dates for Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, and greatest elongation dates for Mercury and Venus.

For each of the five visible planets, we show you whether it is visible in the evening, morning or all night. If there is just a '-' in the table then the planet is not visible during this month.

2019

Mercury

Venus

Mars

Jupiter

Saturn

Jan

---

wGE 06th

Eve

Morn

---

Feb

eGE 27th

Morn

Eve

Morn

Morn

Mar

---

Morn

Eve

Morn

Morn

Apr

mGE 11th

Morn

Eve

Morn

Morn

May

---

Morn

Eve

Morn

Morn

Jun

eGE 23rd

Morn

Eve

Opp 10th

Morn

Jul

---

---

---

Eve

Opp 09th

Aug

mGE 09th

---

---

Eve

Eve

Sep

---

---

---

Eve

Eve

Oct

eGE 20th

Eve

Morn

Eve

Eve

Nov

mGE 28th

Eve

Morn

Eve

Eve

Dec

---

Eve

Morn

---

Eve

mGE = Greatest Elongation, visible morning / eGE = Greatest Elongation, visible evening

Opp = Opposition / Morn = Rises after midnight / Eve = Rises before midnight / --- = Not Visible


Planets Visible Today - The Details


Now you know which planets are visible in the sky tonight, let's look at them individually for more detail on where to see them throughout 2019.

Is Mercury Visible Tonight?


You may have wondered 'can we see Mercury from Earth' and the answer is a resounding yes! However, of the five brightest planets, Mercury is definitely the trickiest one to see.

It is absolutely possible though, and you can see Mercury without a telescope if you know when and where to look.

For the best chance of success, find an elevated position, e.g. a hill, that overlooks an open horizon. Mercury skirts so close to the ground - even at its best - that trees and buildings will prevent you from seeing it.

Where Can You Find Mercury?

The challenge to seeing Mercury comes from the short distance between it and the Sun, and the rapid orbit the planet has. Mercury orbits the sun in only 88 days, so it completes well over four laps of the sun for every one of ours.

Mercury is so close to the sun that we can never see it in true darkness. It's proximity to the sun also means that the little planet is never very high above the horizon. As an example, at its greatest elongation of June 23rd this year, Mercury will only be 11° above the horizon half an hour after sunset in mid-latitude states.

To put that in context, 11° is about the width of your fist at the end of your outstretched arm, i.e. it's not very high above the horizon.

Even at its best seeing, Mercury is only visible for up to an hour before sunrise in the morning or after sunset in the evening. 

Because Mercury is near the sun, it's visible in the west straight after sunset and in the east immediately before sunrise.

When Can We See Mercury from Earth?

Being so speedy in its orbit means Mercury does not hang around long and we have to grab opportunities to see it. Thankfully, Mercury has 6 greatest elongation events this year, three each in the evening and morning.

Mercury's greatest elongations of 2019 occur on:

  • February 27th, best viewed after sunset
  • April 11th, before sunrise
  • June 23rd, after sunset
  • August 9th, before sunrise
  • October 20th, after sunset
  • November 28th, before sunrise

Seeing stays favorable only for a few days either side of these dates. For the rest of the time, Mercury is lost in the sun's blinding glare.

For more details click this link for our dedicated guide to seeing Mercury with a telescope.

Always be careful when searching for and viewing Mercury, especially if using binoculars or a telescope. The sun is never far away and will severely damage your eyes if you look at it - even a glimpse of it with binoculars or a telescope can blind.

Mercury Seeing Challenges:

  • Mercury. Yes, your first challenge is to see the planet itself. Whilst it is bright, it's always in the glare of the dawn or dusk low towards the horizon. Seeing the planet Mercury is a great first achievement!
  • Mercury's phases. What is worth looking out for is the crescent of Mercury. Sky & Telescope Magazine always carries an almanack of how much of the surface is illuminated. (Read our Sky & Telescope review here)

Planet Mercury - Fact Box

Where is planet mercury tonight?

Planet Mercury (credit below)

Orbital period: 88 days

Synodic period: 116 days

Best Magnitude: -1.9

Moons: 0

What to look for in 2019: When Mercury is at greatest elongation, look for the moon-like phases of the solar system's smallest planet.

Is Venus Visible Tonight?

One planet out from Mercury we find Venus. After the moon, Venus is the brightest object in our night sky.

Like Mercury, Venus orbits relatively close to the sun is known as either a morning or evening ‘star’, rising in the morning before the sun or setting after it in the evening. Unlike Mercury though, it is far enough from the sun that we can see it in the darkness of nighttime and not just in the glow of dawn or dusk.

Venus also has crescent phases, like our own moon, which can be seen through a small telescope.  This is the only feature to observe on Venus because it has no moons or visible surface features.

Where Can You Find Venus?

Like all planets, Venus is found on the ecliptic but never strays too far from the western horizon when it's an evening star or the eastern horizon in the morning.

The planet is unmistakably bright, shining much brighter than any other object in the night sky which makes it easy to view, even with a pair of binoculars.

At its furthest from the sun, Venus can spend a few nights 'up' all night.  From central latitudes of the US, it can climb about 30° above the horizon, as it will in the first few weeks of 2019.

When Can We See Venus from Earth?

Venus is visible as a morning star from day one of the new year and all the way to the end of May. It is much higher in the sky earlier in the year, which is the best time to observe it. As we head towards summer, it makes it much less high above the horizon before sunrise.

Over summer 2019, from the second half of June to the very end of October, Venus will not be visible because it will be too close to the sun.

By November, however, the bright crescent of our neighboring planet appears in the evening sky as dusk sets in. Venus brings 2019 to a close by rising much higher in the dark December evening sky and a conjunction with Saturn on the 10th and 11th of the month.

Venus Seeing Challenges:

  • Crescent Venus. Looking at the planet through a telescope, you'll be able to see the phase of this planet, from crescent to gibbous.
  • See Venus in the day! Yes, it is bright enough to be seen when the sun is in the sky, but you need to know where to look and have keen eyes
  • See a shadow cast by Venus's light. On a moonless night, it is the brightest object in the sky and, at a dark site, it is possible to see shadows cast by the planet

Planet Venus - Fact Box

Where is planet Venus tonight?

Planet Venus without Clouds (credit below)

Orbital period: 224 days

Synodic period: 583 days (approx 1.5yrs)

Brightest Magnitude: -4.6

Moons: 0

What to look for in 2019: With Venus shining brightly in our skies at the start and end of the year, there are plenty of opportunities to see its moon-like phases.

Is Mars Visible Tonight?


Passing past our home planet, we begin the journey through the superior planets with Mars.

Famous to everyone, astronomer or not, the ease with which it can be picked out in the night sky varies. But, if you've ever wondered 'can you see Mars without a telescope?' the answer is a definite Yes! 

Sadly, after a very close approach and a spectacular show last year, Mars is but a tiny shadow of its former self throughout 2019. It is visible in the evening sky from the start of the year until July.

It then gets too close to the sun for us to see it again until it appears in the morning skies of November and December.  Whenever you look this year, Mars will be small, faint and uninspiring. Even a decent telescope will struggle to show any detail in 2019 with Mars is at its most distant.

Brace yourself for 2020, when Mars once more comes to prominence...

Where Can You Find Mars?

In 2019 Mars passes through the following constellations:

  • Pisces
  • Aries
  • Taurus
  • Gemini
  • Cancer
  • Leo
  • Virgo
  • Libra

When Can We See Mars from Earth?

Mars is visible as a small, 7.4 arcsecond disc on Jan 01st but will rapidly shrink to just 6.2" by the end of the month. It will fade from magnitude +0.5 to +0.9 over the same timeframe.

It is easy to spot with the naked eye though, 40° above the southwest horizon after dark, shining with an unmistakable pinkish light.

By March, the planet is only 30° above the western horizon and mid-month and is fainter still at magnitude +1.3. Spot it, dimmer still, near the Pleiades in at the start of April before it crosses from Taurus to Gemini in May.

By the end of June, Mars sets just an hour after the sun and, in July, we lose sight of it completely.

The red planet enters the morning sky in October and is visible a full hour before the sun mid-month but its disc this and next month is a 4 arcsecond dot, giving nothing away to your average backyard telescope. 

We close out the year with a feeble Mars shining at magnitude +1.6 in Libra, rising at 4:30 - hours before the sun - and find ourselves wishing 10 months away to the next opposition in October 2020.

Mars Seeing Challenges:

There are lots of features we backyard astronomers can look for on the Martian surface but many of them are not available to us this year given the distance of the planet.

  • Redness of the disc. It is apparent in any size of telescope
  • Gibbous Shape. Mars does not show phases like the inner planets, but it is close enough that Earth casts a shadow on it at various times on its journey around the sun. This has the effect of giving Mars a gibbous shape which you'll see in a 'scope.
  • Polar Ice Caps. Easier to see at Martian winter. Winter solstice at the southern ice cap is on Oct 8th, 2019.
  • Shades of Color. Unless you have a truly enormous telescope you're unfortunately not going to see detail in Mars' surface features. However, you should be able to make out smudges of colour, where darker and lighter areas of the Martian surface rub against each other.
  • Phobos and Deimos. Meaning fear and panic, these are the two small moons of Mars. They are very dim (magnitude 11.3 and 12.4 respectively) putting them beyond the reach of smaller scopes. You’ll need at least an 8” - 10" aperture with decent seeing conditions to find them.
  • Dust Clouds. Mars experiences dust storms and you may be fortunate enough to see one of those through your scope. They don't run to a schedule, so it's all in the luck of your timing. They're most likely to happen during Martian summer, which is March 2019 in the northern hemisphere.

Planet Mars - Fact Box

Where is planet Mars tonight?

Hubble picture of Planet Mars (credit below)

Orbital period: 687 days

Synodic period: 780 days (approx 2yrs)

Brightest Magnitude: -2.9 

Moons: 2

What to look for in 2019: Sadly, Mars is a tiny world for us to see in 2019. It is easy enough to find but exploration of its surface will have to wait until 2020.

Is Jupiter Visible Tonight?


The fourth of our five visible planets is the solar system’s giant: Jupiter.

Even though it is much further from us than Mars is, the fact it's well over a thousand times larger than the red planet means Jupiter shines more brightly in our skies. You may not have realized that, at its brightest, Jupiter is the third brightest object in the night sky, beaten only by Venus and the moon.

So, if you're wondering can you see Jupiter without a telescope, you absolutely can. It's a bright planet and can be found shining in the constellation of Ophiuchus practically all year long, only moving to Sagittarius for the last 6 weeks of 2019.

Whilst you can see Jupiter without a telescope, it is a great planet to look at with one. There is so much to see on its surface or with its moons. If you don't own one yet, take a look at our recommendations for the best telescopes to see planets.

Even binoculars will show you the famous Galilean moons of Jupiter and a small scope will bring out the different brightnesses of the bands on the planet's surface, if not the colors themselves.

Where Can You Find Jupiter?

Is Jupiter in the sky tonight? Well, happily, for most of 2019 the answer to that question is... Yes!

Jupiter is visible for practically the whole year. Opposition is on 10th June, so the first half of the year builds up to that in the morning and the second half pulls away from it in the evening skies. More detail follows below.

If you want to know where to find Jupiter's moons tonight, then we recommend this simple tool from Sky & Telescope (link opens a new tab). Put in the date and time of your observing and discover where the Galilean moons will be. 

When Can We See Jupiter from Earth?

Jupiter is visible all night long in June, reaching opposition on the 10th June 2019. 

In January, Jupiter is a morning planet finishing the month with a 34 arcsecond (and growing) disc shining at magnitude -1.9. Compare this to Mars and you'll see why you should spend more telescope time on Jupiter in 2019.

In February, Jupiter rises at 3am and brightens to magnitude -2.0. It grows and brightens in March and April, reaching magnitude -2.3 from a disc which is 42 arcseconds in diameter now. 

In May, Jupiter rises before midnight and reaches its highest point in the sky around 3am, when it will be about 30° above the southern horizon.

June is opposition month. This massive planet is visible all night long for a few days either side of the 10th and the disc is a whopping 46" across, some 10x the diameter of Mars!

After opposition the rest of the year runs like a reverse of the first half: the planet slowly shrinks, dims and moves closer to the horizon. But, don't worry, there are many months of good Jupiter viewing ahead.

In July Jupiter is highest in the sky around 10:30pm, which is great social timing in the middle of a warm month. In August, Jupiter is the brightest object after the moon in the night sky because Venus is no longer visible. Peak altitude now occurs at dusk, but the disc is still over 40" across.

September brings more obvious deterioration in seeing. Jupiter sets before midnight, has dimmed to magnitude -2.1 (still very bright) and shrunk to 37". In October, Jupiter is 20° above the southwest horizon an hour after sunset but, by mid-November this is just 10° and we're losing the planet in dusk's glow.

December presents one final opportunity to see Jupiter low on the western horizon after sunset but, by the middle of the month, she'll no longer be visible.

Jupiter Seeing Challenges:

  • Galilean moons. The four moons closest to Jupiter (from a total of 67 known moons) were discovered by Galileo Galilei over 400 years ago 1610. Outwards from the planet, they are Io, Europa, Ganymede (itself bigger than planet Mercury) and Callisto.
    They are easily visible as pinpricks of light either side of Jupiter when they're not behind it. They move quickly and this almanack from Sky & Telescope will tell you which ones can be seen on any given day.
  • Bands of Color. Jupiter is famous for its gas bands and even a relatively small telescope will show you the main bands as faint shades of grey. Larger scopes will reveal more detail and some color.
  • Great Red Spot. This is perhaps Jupiter's most famous feature. You’ll need a decent magnification (250x) to see it, and this almanack to make sure you’re looking for it at the right time.
  • Moon Transits. Seeing the moons themselves is simple, but can you see them and their shadows cross in front of the front of the planet? With good seeing, optics and this almanack, you’ll be proud of managing to see one of these events.

Planet Jupiter - Fact Box

Where is planet Jupiter tonight?

Planet Jupiter from Hubble (credit below)

Orbital period: 4330 days (12 yrs)

Synodic period: 398 days (13 months)

Brightest Magnitude: -2.7

Moons: 67, but the four Galilean moons are the ones to look at

What to look for in 2019: Jupiter reaches opposition in June this year which presents a great opportunity to see the bands and great red spot which mark out the planet. If you're feeling particularly up for a challenge, try and see a Galilean moon transit across Jupiter's face.

Is Saturn Visible Tonight?


Next, we come to the last of the five planets visible from Earth with the naked eye. And, for many, the most spectacular to look at with a telescope.

If you're wondering "can I see Saturn without a telescope?" you absolutely can! At its brightest Saturn's light outshines every star - only the moon and four closer planets beat it, so it's easy to pick out.

For many astronomers, nothing beats their first view of Saturn and its awe-inspiring rings through the eyepiece of a telescope. It's a pleasing and surreal sight that keeps many of us coming back to the ringed planet time and again.

Where Can You Find Saturn?

Like Jupiter, Saturn is a gas giant and even with its truly enormous distance from us it shines brightly in the sky and is easy to pick out with the naked eye.

Saturn's distance from the sun means it takes a leisurely 30 years to orbit the sun so, over the course of 2019, it doesn't move much against the background of stars. The planet stays in the constellation Sagittarius throughout this year.

Now you know where to look to see Saturn this year, let's discover when is the best time to see it.

When Can We See Saturn from Earth?

Saturn presents plenty of opportunities to be seen because, except for the first four and last two weeks of 2019, it is visible all year long!

First views for the dedicated astronomer come in the last few days of January, when we'll find the planet very low over the southeast horizon about an hour before sunrise.

This improves quickly and, by the middle of February, it is rising at 5am and 10° above the horizon an hour before sunrise. Viewing improves further still over March and by April Saturn rises at 3:30am and reaches 25° high an hour before sunrise. The disc is slowly growing now and reaches 17 arcseconds in diameter and a magnitude +0.5 glow.

Saturn viewing continues to  improve as we head towards it's closest approach to earth - opposition - in July. 

In May, Saturn rises around midnight and transits the south horizon in darkness. In June, Saturn-rise is a socially acceptable 10pm and transit is at 3am, offering some fantastic viewing in the middle of an early summer's night.

July is the best month of 2019 for looking at Saturn. The ringed planet reaches opposition on the 9th of the month and for several nights either side it will be visible all night long. At its best, the disc will be 18 arcseconds across (compared to Jupiter's bigger and closer 46") and it will be shining at a vibrant magnitude +0.1.

After opposition, Saturn moves to being an evening planet and slowly starts to recede, but not before giving a few more weeks of wonderful viewing.

In August transit occurs at 11pm which, coinciding with steadily darkening skies should give us many hours of unfettered observing. By September the planet is setting at 1am and it's dimmed slightly to magnitude +0.4 but is not noticeably smaller in our eyepieces.

October is the last opportunity to to see Saturn's transit against a dark sky and, by November she is setting before 9pm. The disc has noticeably shrunk to 15 arcseconds and magnitude has slipped another notch to +0.6. 

We can still just about catch a glimpse of Saturn at the beginning of December but, by the last weeks of 2019 we will have lost the planet and its rings in the glare of the setting sun until they reappear once more in the dawn of February 2020.

Saturn Seeing Challenges:

  • Saturn's rings. Of course, this is where we start! Last year the rings will appear wider (more angled towards Earth) that since 2003. In 2019 things won't be much different than they were then, so they are there for the enjoying! Binoculars won't show them, but even the most modest telescope will reveal their glory.
  • Individual rings. With a larger telescope and more magnification, it's a good challenge break the rings down into their component parts: rings A, B, C and D and the Cassini Division.
  • Titan. Saturn’s largest moon (which, like Ganymede, is also larger than Mercury) shines at magnitude 8.3 and is visible with a 4” scope.
    It orbits quite a distance from the planet but is a relatively easy find if you look at the right time.
    There are another 61 moons around Saturn, but none even close to the size of Titan. However, if you’re fortunate enough to have an 8” scope, you could try spotting the next four largest moons, which are Enceladus, Dione, Tethys and Rhea. Use this almanack to help you find them.

Planet Saturn - Fact Box

Where is planet Jupiter tonight?

Saturn and her glorious rings (credit below)

Orbital period: 10,759 days (29.5 yrs)

Synodic period: 378 days (54 weeks)

Brightest Magnitude: 0.7

Moons: 62, but Titan biggest by far (click this link to see Saturn's moons through your telescope)

What to look for in 2019: Saturn's rings aren't quite as spectacular as they were but in a small scope it will be hard to notice the difference. See if you can 'split' them into separate bands either side of the Cassini division.




Can I See Uranus and Neptune Tonight?

We touched on them briefly in the introduction. Uranus and Neptune are the last two planets in the solar system.

We’ve not covered them in detail as they are a much harder spot than the other five, but they may be a challenge you want to take on as you become more proficient at looking around the sky with your telescope.

Click here for our detailed guide to seeing Uranus.

Click here for our detailed guide to seeing Neptune.

You’ll need a magnification of at least 100x to see the disc of Uranus and more for Neptune. You’ll also need a detailed finder chart for Uranus and Neptune so you know where to look.

It can be hard to know if you’ve found what you’re looking for, but they both shine with a blue/green light and, of course, they move over successive nights with respect to the background stars.

Summary

The five visible planets all put on a spectacular show at various points in 2019.

Each offers its own unique challenges from the simple to the moderately difficult.

Make a reminder to look for Mercury and Venus when they are at greatest elongation. For Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, you'll see the most detail when they are at opposition. 

2019 Opposition Dates for the Planets

  • Mars - No opposition this year
  • Jupiter - Monday, June 10, 2019, at 15:17
  • Saturn - Tuesday, July 09, 2019, at 16:55
  • Uranus - Tuesday, September 10, 2019, at 07:10
  • Neptune - Monday, October 28, 2019, at 08:02

All times are UT.

Planet-Finding Resources

These are some useful resources to help you further with your planet observing.


Links: Please note, some of the links in this article are affiliate links. You can find out more by clicking on 'affiliate links' in the footer.
Image Credits

​Color picture of Mercury Credit: By NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington - NASA/JPL.Edited version of Mercury in color - Prockter07.jpg by jjron (cropped to square)., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24301424

​Planet Venus without clouds Credit: By NASA - http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA00104, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11826

​Hubble picture of planet Mars Credit: By NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) - http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2005/34/image/j/ (image link), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3193645

​Hubble picture of planet Jupiter Credit: By NASA, ESA, and A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center) - http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/heic1410a/ or http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2014/24/image/b/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32799232

​Cassini picture of planet Jupiter Credit: By NASA / JPL / Space Science Institute - http://www.ciclops.org/view/5155/Saturn-Four-Years-On https://www.nasa.gov/images/content/365640main_PIA11141_full.jpg http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA11141, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7228953

​Moon, Venus and Mercury Credit: By ESO/Y. Beletsky - http://www.eso.org/public/images/potw1025a/, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10726475

Featured image of Sun and Planets Credit:  By WP - Planets2008.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24756373