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See all 5 bright planets in December

See all 5 bright planets: Wide field shot showing five dots for planets along an aqua arc representing the ecliptic.
Starting around December 8, 2022, you can see all 5 bright planets in the early evening sky. You’ll have to look soon after sunset, because Venus and Mercury are close to the horizon and set early. By the end of the month, you can watch the moon pass by the line of planets. Chart via John Jardine Goss / EarthSky.

See all 5 bright planets in December

Ancient stargazers knew of five planets, which they called wanderers, because they did not have fixed positions on the sky. These five planets bright enough to view without optical aid are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

Starting around December 8 and for the rest of the month, you can spot all five of the planets in the evening sky. But you’ll need to look shortly after sunset and have a clear view from the southwest to the east. Because of the angle the planets take across the sky, it will be much easier for those in the Southern Hemisphere to see Mercury and Venus than those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. A great observing trick to help objects pop in to view is to use averted vision.

Mars, Jupiter and Saturn have been visible all month. Mars is farthest to the east and a bright reddish point of light. The red planet reached opposition, opposite the sun in or sky, around 12 a.m. CST (6 UTC) on December 8. So Mars is currently at the brightest it will be for two years.

Jupiter is in the southern sky, and Saturn is a bit to its southwest. These two gas giant planets have been good targets in the evening sky for months.

Mercury and Venus have been too close to the sun to see, but around December 8 you should see them above the horizon after sunset. Start looking about 30 minutes after sunset. You might catch them as the sky is darkening just before they slip below the horizon. It will get easier later in the month. Then, they’ll move further from the sun and stay above the horizon longer.

Available now! 2023 EarthSky lunar calendar. A unique and beautiful poster-sized calendar showing phases of the moon every night of the year! And it makes a great gift.

The moon and 5 planets

On December 8, the moon, just hours after full phase, will be rising in the east near Mars as Mercury and Venus set in the southwest. The next time you’ll see the moon near any of these evening planets will be after new phase. On December 24, a young crescent moon will be beside Mercury and Venus. On the 25th, it’s between the innermost planets and Saturn. Then, on December 26, you can find the moon alongside Saturn. Next, the moon approaches and then passes Jupiter on December 28 and 29. And it won’t reach Mars until January 3, 2023.

To see a precise view from your location, try Stellarium Online.

Bottom line: You can see all five bright planets in the evening starting around December 8. Then, toward the end of the month, watch the moon pass each planet in turn.

For more great observing events in the coming weeks, visit EarthSky’s night sky guide

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