See every planet in the solar system at once Wednesday (Dec. 28)

See every planet in the solar system at once Wednesday (Dec. 28)

Update: Today’s livestream of the solar system planets will now begin at 12:30 p.m. EST (1730 GMT)

Take a grand tour of the solar system tonight (Dec. 28) as each of the planets in the solar system will be visible at the same time.

As 2022 comes to an end, skywatchers can take in the rare sight of all of the planets in our solar system (aside from Earth) together in the sky. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are all currently visible simultaneously with the naked eye. The two outermost planets, Uranus and Neptune, can meanwhile be observed with binoculars or a telescope.

To celebrate this excellent skywatching opportunity, the Virtual Telescope Project is hosting a free “grand tour of the solar system (opens in new tab)” livestream starting at 12:30 p.m. EST (1730 GMT) on Wednesday (Dec. 28). You can watch the live webcast courtesy of the project’s website linked to above, or on their YouTube channel (opens in new tab).

Related: The Christmas night sky 2022: The planets pay a holiday visit

The five planets visible with the naked eye — Venus, Mercury, Saturn, Jupiter and Mars, in that order — will line up in the sky starting from the southwestern horizon. Mercury, the smallest planet in the solar system, will be difficult to see with the eye, but it’s possible if dark sky conditions are right. 

An illustration of the night sky on Dec. 28 showing the relative positions of Venus and Mercury. (Image credit: Starry Night Education)

Uranus, visible only through binoculars or a telescope, can be found between Mars and Jupiter, while Neptune will be visible through optics between Saturn and Jupiter.

An illustration of the night sky on Dec. 28 showing the positions of Neptune and Jupiter relative to the moon. (Image credit: Starry Night Education)

Gianluca Masi, an astronomer with the Virtual Telescope Project, says while the occurrence of all other planets being visible isn’t particularly rare, it does make for an impressive skywatching opportunity. “It happens from time to time, but it is always a spectacular sight,” Masi told Newsweek (opens in new tab).

Such “grand tours” happen roughly every one to two years, on average. In June 2022, skywatchers were treated to five planets  —  Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn — arranged in a rare alignment the likes of which hadn’t occurred since 1864.

If you want to take a look at the planets of the solar system and don’t have all the gear you need, be sure not to miss our guides for the best binoculars and the best telescopes to view the planets or anything else in the sky. For capturing the best skywatching images you can, we have recommendations for the best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography.  

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