Spot a planet

There are three planets visible in the night sky at the moment.

The most difficult is the planet Mercury – this is an elusive planet and can only be viewed for short periods of time in the year. It is also low on the horizon, so at the end of March you will need a good western horizon to see it.

Mars is also low in the West after sunset – on March 30 it will be quite close to the Moon – look to the right and a little bit up and there should be a bright reddish ‘star’ – that will be the planet Mars.

Moon, Mars and Mercury low in the western sky on March 30 2017

Jupiter will be better seen later in the night – perhaps around midnight. It will be in the south and the brightest ‘star’ in the sky. If you look with binoculars you can see the four bright ‘Galilean’ Moons and that the planet has a disk. If you observe over a few nights you will see that the moons have changed their position, just as Galileo did more than 400 years ago. If you have a small telescope, you will be able to see the bands on Jupiter’s surface, and perhaps the Great Red Spot.

If you manage to view any or all of these planets – please let us know how you did it and what you managed to see…

The British Astronomical Association supports amateur astronomers around the UK and the rest of the world. Find out more about the BAA or join us.