The Planets this Week

Venus and Mercury at dusk over Rome, March 14, 2018

Mercury and Venus on March 14th over a skyline in Rome, photographed by Gianluca Masi with a long lens; the two planets were only 4.0° apart. Every day Mercury moves farther to the lower right from its position here, and it's fading too.  "As soon as the sky darkened, minutes after sunset, Venus was an obvious sight, but spotting Mercury was an harder task, initially;" writes Masi. "Once the sky was dark enough, both planets were so obvious that they could be seen even by casual stargazers. A couple of people in the same place as me noticed both of them with no help."

Find Mercury and Venus low in evening twilight, due west. Venus shines at magnitude –4, while little Mercury fades rapidly from magnitude 0 to +2 this week. Look for Mercury upper right of Venus early in the week, right of it by about March 19th or 20th (depending on your latitude), and lower right of it toward week's end. They remain about 4° apart through the 22nd.

Mars and Saturn, together in Sagittarius, rise around 3 a.m. daylight-saving time. At the beginning of dawn they're the brightest points moderately low in the south-southeast, above the fainter Sagittarius Teapot. They're equally bright at magnitude +0.5, but Mars is redder. Far to their right at that time is Antares, and farther right is bright Jupiter.

Mars continues drawing closer to Saturn as seen from Earth's moving point of view. They appear 8½° apart on the morning of March 17th and 5° apart by the 24th. They'll pass each other by 1.3° on April 2nd.

Jupiter (magnitude –2.3, in Libra) rises around 11 or midnight daylight-saving time and shines as the brightest point in the early-morning sky. Jupiter is highest and presents the sharpest views in a telescopes around 4 or 5 a.m., well before dawn.

Uranus and Neptune are behind the glare of the Sun.


All descriptions that relate to your horizon — including the words up, down, right, and left — are written for the world's mid-northern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude (mainly Moon positions) are for North America.

Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) is Universal Time (also called UT, UTC, GMT, or Z time) minus 4 hours.