Planets

The Greeks called them planētēs meaning “wanderers”. From Earth the other planets of our solar system look like roaming stars, but thanks to telescopes and spacecraft we know these pinpricks of light are actually worlds unto themselves, many with moons just as fascinating as they are. Among the most brilliant objects in the sky, some can be a great place to start your observing journey. Imagine Galileo peering up at Jupiter through his small telescope only to find four moons (Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto) orbiting around it, the first proof we did not live in a geocentric universe.

Here you’ll find observing guides for the other planets orbiting the Sun, from bright Venus and red Mars to kingly Jupiter and elegant Saturn. We have software tools to help you find which planets or moons are visible tonight, when, and where. And we have guides highlighting neat features to look for on the planets when you do nab them in a telescope.

Saturn on Feb. 23

A Saturn Almanac

Spectacular Saturn is a perennial favorite of telescope users everywhere. Click here to find printable data on the positions of Saturn's rings and planets.

Where Are the Planets?

If you see a bright "star" not shown on your planisphere (star wheel), it's probably a planet. The planets always stay in or near the zodiacal constellations, which straddle the ecliptic (shown as a green line on Sky & Telescope's Star Wheel and a blue line on our Night Sky Star Wheel). For help in…

Moon Occults Mars

During the predawn hours of Thursday, July 17th, the waning gibbous Moon will cover Mars for skywatchers in southeastern Florida, the Caribbean, and parts of Central and South America.