FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Calling all astronomy fans! This last week of March is featuring an alignment of four visible planets that happens about once a year.
You have the opportunity to see Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter all in a line in the evening sky. You can also see Uranus along the same line, but you will need an advanced telescope in order to see it. This annual occurrence is the result of Mercury and Venus moving around to the same side of the sun.
For us here in northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio, the line of planets will be found in the western sky at an angle of about 40°. This means the line of planets will be at this angle as you look from the horizon up into the western sky from right to left.
Mercury can be found very low on the horizon, with Jupiter slightly below it to the left. Jupiter will be slightly brighter than Mercury because Mercury is so close to the sun. However, they will both appear dim because you are looking through more of the atmosphere along the horizon. Both planets will only be visible for a brief time around 8 PM or so before they dip below the horizon.
Venus will be the most noticeable planet, as it will be much brighter than the others. It can be found about a third of the way up in the sky, farther left of Mercury and Jupiter.
The last visible planet will be Mars, which is far up in the sky. It will be nearly overhead and farther left still of Venus (you’ll be looking more southwest).
Uranus can be found about two thirds of the way up in the sky roughly between Venus and Mars. However, it will only be able to be seen with a moderate to strong telescope.
Visibility of this celestial event will be best away from light pollution and with clear skies. A place it can be viewed is at the Star*Quest Observatory in New Haven. They are opening for the season this Saturday night one hour past sunset and will be open for two hours.