Are you an avid stargazer? If so, you probably want to know when you can see not just the stars but the visible planets in our Solar System as well. These are sometimes referred to as the “naked-eye planets,” because you can see them with the naked eye—no telescope or binoculars needed (except for Neptune!). This handy guide gives you the dates for when you can see the planets throughout the year. This is one page you’ll want to bookmark!
When You Can See The Planets
Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun in our Solar System. Because it is so close to the Sun, it is only observable in the early morning, just before sunrise, or at dusk. In fact, ancient Greek astronomers once believed Mercury was actually two separate objects. It usually appears as a bright “star” with a golden hue. As an evening star, appears in the western sky setting about an hour after the Sun; as a morning star, it appears in the eastern sky rising about an hour before the Sun. Mercury usually appears as a bright “star” with a yellowish or ochre hue.
When Is Mercury Visible in 2023?
- January 23 to February 13.
- May 22 to June 12.
- September 16 to September 30 (Best seen: September 16 to September 30).
- April 2 to April 18 (Best seen: April 2 to April 18).
- July 27 to August 17.
- November 20 to December 11.
After the Moon, Venus is the brightest natural object in the night sky. It is both the Earth’s closest neighbor in our Solar System and the planet most similar to Earth in size, gravity, and composition. We can’t see the surface of Venus from Earth, because it is covered with thick clouds. Venus has the densest atmosphere of the four terrestrial planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars), which consists mostly of carbon dioxide. Always brilliant, and shining with a steady, silvery light.
When Is Venus Visible in 2023?
- August 22 to December 31(Best seen: September 19).
- January 1 to August 4 (Best seen: July 7).
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in our Solar System. While it’s not our nearest neighbor (Venus takes that honor), or the brightest planet in the night sky (also Venus), it is perhaps the planet that most inspires our imagination. Whether as home to “little green men” or as a future outpost for life from Earth, the planet figures heavily into science fiction books and movies. Mars is often called the “Red Planet” because it appears orange-red in the sky, and its surface material contains a lot of iron oxide. Iron looks black, but the element takes on a reddish tinge when it has been exposed to oxygen, i.e., “iron oxide.”
When Is Mars Visible in 2023?
- Will not be visible in the morning in 2023.
- January 1 to September 30 (Best seen: January 1).
Jupiter is usually the third brightest object in the night sky, after the Moon and Venus (only Mars, our next-door neighbor, is occasionally brighter), and summer is an especially good time to view this bright behemoth. Jupiter’s signature feature, the “Great Red Spot,” is actually a colossal storm that has been raging on the planet’s surface since at least the 17th century, when it was first seen by telescope. It’s known as the Gas Giant” because although it looks solid, it is made up primarily of gases, such as hydrogen and helium.
When Is Jupiter Visible in 2023?
- May 3 to November 2 (Best seen: October 11 to November 2).
- January 1 to March 22.
- November 3 to December 31 (Best seen: November 3 to November 23).
Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun, and the second largest, after Jupiter. It is one of the five planets visible from Earth using only the naked-eye (the others are Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter). Though remote from the Earth, Saturn’s unique ring system makes it possibly the most instantly recognized planet in our Solar System. Though about 833 Earths would fit into Saturn, the planet’s density is only one-eighth that of the Earth, making Saturn’s mass barely 95 times greater than the Earth’s.
The famous rings are only visible in a telescope. They were at their maximum tilt toward Earth in October 2017 and are now closing to our line of sight.
When Is Saturn Visible in 2023?
- March 6 to August 26 (Best seen: August 18 to August 26).
- January 1 to January 30.
- August 27 to December 31 (Best seen: August 27 to September 11).
Uranus (pronounced “EUR-an-iss) is the 7th planet from the Sun, the smallest of our Solar System’s gas planets, and the first to be discovered by scientists. Uranus is so far away from us, it usually can’t even be seen with the naked eye. the planet is also notable for its dramatic tilt, which causes its axis to point nearly directly at the Sun. It’s sometimes called “The Bull’s Eye Planet,” because of its complex rings and Moons make it appear like a bull’s eye, and the “Ice Giant,” because of its cold atmosphere, and 80% or more of its mass is made up of a mix of water, methane, and ammonia ices.
At its brightest it shines at magnitude +5.6 and can be readily identified with good binoculars. A small telescope may reveal its tiny, greenish disk.
When Is Uranus Visible in 2023?
- May 27 to November 12 (Best seen: October 11 to November 12).
- January 1 to April 23.
- November 13 to December 31(Best seen November 13 to December 17).
Read more fascinating facts about Uranus!
Neptune is the eighth, and farthest planet in our Solar System and the first whose existence was theorized before its actual discovery. Like Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus, Neptune is called a “gas giant” because, though it looks solid, it is made up primarily of gases, such as hydrogen and helium, covering a rocky core comprised of heavier elements. Neptune has 13 moons and takes 165 years to take 1 trip around the Sun!
It’s sometimes called “The Blue Planet,” because Neptune’s cloud cover has an especially vivid blue tint. Astronomers aren’t quite sure what compound causes the blue tint and theorize it may the result of the absorption of red light by methane in the planets mostly hydrogen-helium atmosphere.
When Is Neptune Visible in 2023?
- April 1 to September 18 (Best seen: July 21 to September 18).
- January 1 through February 28.
- September 19 to December 31 (Best seen: September 19 to November 17).
Please note all the images of the planets depicted in this story are stock photography/artist’s renderings and not actual photographs.
I want to know where and which direction
I enjoy watching the planets with my uncle. He work for NASA for 20 yrs. He tell me joke why the people’s behind the chair in NASA think about. The answer was kind of funny wait for the next break time. Also what they is eat green crackers with green cheese to think that they are on Mars. I enjoy learning more about the planets with uncle. Than listening to crazy joke
Isaiah 40:22 talks about the circle of the earth, so even people back then believed that the earth was round like a ball.
If the earth is flat why can’t we go to the ends of it? The sides ? And how do you explain photos taken from outer space that show earth as a round planet ?? I’m baffled that people defy facts . Science is the truth whether you believe in it or not .
I am wanting to make a project on travel from earth to Venus planet.
So, Venus is practicaly visible entire year!? Ok, how is that possible? If it is closer to Sun then Earth, that means it can be visible ONLY during the day and ONLY part of the year,since it sits between us and the Sun. You can not observe it during the night, since we are facing outer space on the night side and Venus is simply not there. This is why I KNOW Earth is not a globe. Same goes for Mercury…
i would have to say that *visible* entire year means it can be seen daily….i live in georgia and i’ve been seeing Venus every evening all summer…..i saw it a few times in the morning during the beginning of the year…..but sunrise is a foreign concept to me ☺ so my star gazing is night time….been seeing Saturn and Jupiter for months now south of up after midnight……love the night sky…..i pray for CME’s in the hopes of seeing the aurora!!!!
Straka, How does earth being flat change any of that? Venus is only visible “at night” in the evening relatively close to the horizon just after the sun sets because we need to look “almost” in the same direction as the sun. Same in the mornings depending on the time of year. That’s because as you noted Venus is in orbit closer to the sun. Wow, the earth is a sphere. Just like the rest of the planets and moons and every other large celestial body.
Wow. So let me get this straight, you actually think the earth is flat?!!
You need to go back to elementary school dude.
This is what is wrong with our country, thinking like that and being ignorant about proven facts.
I bet if you even voted, you voted for the biggest ignorant choice, traitor trump. Unreal. Please educate yourself
Vernie, at first you have to wipe away some stereotypes yourself and then, after all, impose your false ideas about the structure of our planet on anyone. “Proven facts” is the bait for such gullible people as you are. Our consciousness is kept captive by those who don’t want us to know real state of affairs. It’s easier for them to control your mind. Wake up and never consider someone to be ignorent and not educated. It might happen that you are far away behind our reality.
The earth is observably round. I find it funny that flat earthers never truly look at what they talk about.
Flat=Earthers can only be 2 things. 1. a Joker, who thinks his ridiculous claims are so hilarious that he must laugh at those around him shaking their heads. or 2. a Fool, who actually believes the unfounded and wholly inaccurate contention of this particular idiocy.
You really don’t know what you are talking about. Venus is always seen as a crescent before the dawn in the eastern sky or after sunset in the western sky, when it can be seen. It is always a crescent because it is closer to the sun so we can only see it when it is to the side of the sun so it will never be seen full like the moon.
You only see it before dawn or after sunset depending on where it’s orbit is in relation to our orbit.
I suggest you by a cheap telescope and look at what you are commenting on before you comment. You will be amazed at the true beauty of God’s never ending creation.
Relax I think they made an intelligent observation and sure, you make sense, so ok maybe earth is a ball, and sure earth being flat wouldn’t help it being closer to the sun yet seen in darkness somehow but what you say makes sense. For a god believer you don’t think god could make a flat earth? You think god appreciates how rude you are? Why don’t you think twice before you comment. Flat earth can still be beautiful anyways wtf
Love your thinking! Hell yeah makes sense to me too! Funny how typical that other moron is bashing you for using your head and making a logical conclusion even if it wasn’t taught to you in school. Lollll sillies be silly. Beagle mom makes a good point tho I do remember hearing Venus is the morning star. Feel like I’ve seen it at night myself though.
please stop deceiving to yourself you are missing out on so much knowledge by not putting the time in to understand what you don’t. I say this with sincerity and respect.
Siempre quedo en la duda si las fechas de observación corresponden al hemisferio norte o sur. Yo vivo en el hemisferio sur, específicamente en Chile.
How are the “morning” and “evening” hours defined? I.e. is 1am considered morning or evening?
Hi Michael, Our apologies in advance that this is a long reply but hopefully, it answers your question. Morning and evening designations have to do with each individual planet’s relationship to the Sun. We spoke with astronomer Joe Rao, who explains: For the “inferior” planets (those planets closer to the Sun than Earth, i.e., Mercury and Venus), these two planets can never get very far from the Sun in the sky, generally rising an hour or two before the Sun in the morning — hence getting the designation “morning star” — or setting an hour or two after the Sun in the evening — hence getting the designation “evening star.” When Mercury or Venus arrives at inferior conjunction, that is the day that they transition from an evening star to a morning star. When they arrive at superior conjunction, that is the day they transition from a morning star to an evening star.
For the “superior” planets (those planets farther from the Sun than Earth, i.e., Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) they enter the morning sky when they arrive at conjunction with the Sun. Thereafter they remain as “morning stars” until the day they come to opposition — that point in the sky where they are diametrically opposite to the Sun in the sky; they rise at sunset, are highest at midnight, and set at sunrise. On the date of opposition, a superior planet transitions to the designation as an “evening star.” It then remains as an evening star until it once again is in conjunction with the Sun. It then transitions back to being a morning star.”
Composite of Jupiter and Saturn images taken this morning
Wow, thank you for sharing, Gene!
I have recently become addicted to the night sky … BEAUTIFUL.. Thank u for the artical here is juat 1 lonely pic i have taken out of thousands ..
Hi Kari, the same thing happened to me. I so appreciate space and our place in it. Fascinating. We’re so glad you are enjoying our content!
Very good pictures and explained very well, but what do you mean by opposition or opposite the sun
Hi Liz, all the planets in our solar system orbit the Sun. At certain points during these orbits, the Earth finds itself directly between the Sun and another planet. This is the moment at which that planet is said to be ‘in opposition’.
Thank you for a very nice article! Like others, I’ve read countless articles about how/when/where to see planets in our solar system. Yours is one of the best “set” of directions I’ve read of late. I wish I had a powerful telescope for awesome viewing, but in my part of Florida I’ve found a pair of strong binoculars jury-rigged atop a camera tripod works best due to our variable – and varying – cloud cover.
Terrific, Bob. And thank you, I’m glad you enjoy that page. We’ll be updating it for 2021 shortly!