On the evening of March 27, sky gazers will be in for a treat as a planetary parade makes its way across the sky. The parade will feature five planets – Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Mars, and Uranus, as well as a famous star cluster and the moon. This is an event that is not to be missed, as it is a rare occurrence and offers a unique opportunity for amateur astronomers and stargazers.
An Observing Challenge
The event comes at a time when amateur astronomers are participating in the Messier Marathon, a challenge where they attempt to view all 110 deep sky objects cataloged by French astronomer Charles Messier. The marathon takes place around the time of the new moon and within a week or so of the Vernal Equinox. During this period, those with telescopes and a good knowledge of the sky stay up from dusk to dawn, looking for and logging as many Messier objects as they can. Sometimes, there are organized marathons scheduled, such as at the recent International Star Party in Flagstaff, Arizona. Even for assiduous amateur astronomers, the Messier Marathon poses a significant observing challenge.
The planetary parade, which occurs during the Messier Marathon, will be a different type of challenge for sky gazers. It will be an opportunity to catch sight of five planets, a famous star cluster, and the moon all in one evening. However, it will be a difficult task, especially with some of the planets.
For instance, it is recommended that observers stake out an observing site with a clear and unobstructed view of the western horizon if they hope to see two of the distant worlds. It is essential to avoid any tall objects such as buildings or trees in that direction. The best option is looking out over a westward-facing shoreline that is perfectly flat and wide open with nothing to block the view.
Get the Most out of Your Sighting
Having a good pair of binoculars is also recommended as they will be extremely beneficial in making a sighting. The best kind is either 7 x 35 or 7 x 50. The first number refers to magnification – in both cases, “7 power.” The second number refers to the size of the objective lens – the large lens at the front of the binocular – measured in millimeters.
For those hoping to catch a glimpse of the planetary parade, guides to the best telescopes and binoculars are a great place to start. Those looking to snap photos of the night sky in general can check out guides on how to photograph the moon, as well as the best cameras and lenses for astrophotography.
In conclusion, the planetary parade that will take place on March 27 offers a unique opportunity for sky gazers and amateur astronomers alike to witness a rare celestial event. While the event will pose a challenge for observers, the chance to see five planets, a famous star cluster, and the moon all in one evening makes it worth the effort.