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A rare phenomenon: All the planets are visible in the sky this week

All planets in our solar system will be visible around sunrise or sunset this week. A rare occurrence and a natural coincidence of the planetary orbits.

Posted: Nov 18, 2020 6:51 PM
Updated: Nov 19, 2020 9:47 AM

CHICO, Calif. - All planets in our solar system will be visible around sunrise or sunset this week. A rare occurrence and a natural coincidence of the planetary orbits. 

It's not uncommon to see some of the planets in the night sky, but this week we have the rare opportunity to see all of the planets in our solar system on the same day. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune.

All of these planets will not be above the horizon at the same time, so you can't view them all in one seating. But, if you head outside at dawn and after sunset, you'll be able to see all of the same day, this week.

Here's how to view the planets:

In the morning, you will be able to see Mercury and Venus in the dark morning sky before the sun rises. Venus will be visible before the sun rises if you look ESE, towards the horizon, very near where the sun sets. It will become visible (move above the horizon) around 4:30 am. Mercury will rise in the same spot just after 5:30 am, which is about an hour and a half before sunrise in our area.

Over the next few nights, you will be able to see Uranus and Mars in the same direction after sunset. Mars will be closer in the southeasterly direction and Uranus will be closer to the easterly direction. Note, Uranus will be very difficult, but still possible, to spot with the naked eye.

If you can spot Mars, you'll also be able to view Neptune. The only exception is Neptune is not visible to the naked eye, so binoculars or a telescope will be needed. It will be a little higher up in the sky and more to the right, with respect to Mars. It is in the south-southeasterly direction.

Jupiter and Saturn will be the real prize since they will be right next to the moon. They will be visible after sunset. If you can find the moon, which will be in the southwesterly direction, Jupiter will be just above it to the left with Saturn right above that.

The reason it is rare to see all of the planets on the same day is that sometimes planets will be behind the sun, making them impossible to see. Out of the core planets, Mercury and Venus are right next to each other with Mercury almost behind the sun from Earth's perspective. That's why it's only visible just before sunrise. Mars is in the opposite direction of the sun so it will be visible for a while.

Out of the gas giants, Jupiter and Saturn are also next to each other in relative terms, but are just far enough away from behind the sun to be visible. Uranus and Neptune are in the opposite direction of the sun with respect to Earth's orbit, meaning they will also be visible for a while.

The weather locally will make it difficult for planet viewing Wednesday night with partly cloudy skies in the forecast but the rest of the week and into the weekend should be easier with less cloud cover in the forecast.

Pluto, along with other dwarf planets in our solar system will also be in the night sky.

To find out what's in the night sky whenever you want, visit the website Stellarium or download the Stellarium Plus Mobile App

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1215455

Reported Deaths: 19151
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles3958437639
San Bernardino930191129
Riverside868541437
San Diego81084997
Orange778191577
Kern41328448
Fresno38288481
Sacramento36905576
Santa Clara34292476
Alameda29476512
San Joaquin25742502
Contra Costa23895261
Stanislaus21714424
Tulare20701308
Ventura19510175
Imperial16019356
San Francisco15450160
Monterey15328121
San Mateo14148170
Sonoma12198157
Merced11688179
Santa Barbara11481135
Kings1109387
Solano1025281
Marin7755129
Placer649768
San Luis Obispo612936
Madera611985
Shasta488247
Yolo482776
Santa Cruz442628
Butte389459
Sutter333216
Napa303317
El Dorado24154
Yuba203610
San Benito188016
Lassen17733
Tehama167825
Mendocino145823
Nevada12729
Tuolumne9818
Glenn9258
Lake92019
Humboldt8509
Colusa7116
Siskiyou6242
Amador56316
Mono5483
Calaveras47822
Del Norte3281
Inyo29016
Plumas2150
Trinity1580
Mariposa1312
Modoc1310
Alpine500
Sierra190
Unassigned00
Chico
Clear
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Oroville
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Paradise
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Chester
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Red Bluff
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Willows
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Above average temperatures and sunny skies will be in in the forecast for the next 7 days. Sadly, no rain.
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