How many planets have you seen with your naked eye? And comets? Technically, only five of the seven other planets in the Solar System can be seen without binoculars or a small telescope, and all of them come into view in the night sky this week.

If you’ve never knowingly seen a planet, or only ever seen the “easy” planets—Venus and Jupiter—here’s a chance to add a few more to your collection.

And don’t forget Comet NEOWISE, which also becomes easily visible this week in the post-sunset evening night sky.

From Sunday, July 19, 2020, and all next week, these planets will in be visible in our night sky, with the bonus sight of a crescent Moon alongside Jupiter, Saturn then Mars later this week:

  • Mercury (morning sky)
  • Venus (morning sky)
  • Mars
  • Jupiter
  • Saturn

What planets will be visible and when?

You’re going to need a really early morning session to see all of the five planets in the same sky, or you can split it into two sessions. Get up a few hours before sunrise on Sunday, July 19, and you’ll be able to see above the eastern horizon:

  • Mercury rising in the northeast about 45 minutes before sunrise (look for a small, red dot).
  • Venus shining in the east (very bright and very easy to see).

Now find a good view of the western horizon.

  • Jupiter, in opposition last week so super-bright, will be sinking in the western sky.
  • Saturn, coming into opposition on Monday, will be just above Jupiter in the western sky.
  • Mars will be much higher above the southewstern horizon.

You will only be able to see Venus and Mercury pre-dawn, but it’s easy to see Jupiter, Saturn and Mars in the east soon after dark in the evening (for Mars you’ll have to wait for a few hours), so consider two separate observing sessions if you only have clear view to the east.

How to get the best views of each planet

Since the apparent sizes and brightness are different for each planet, here’s now to see each of them in turn:

  • Mercury: hard to see with the naked eye, so use binoculars and scan around the horizon.
  • Venus: easy to see with the naked eye—super-bright!

How to get the best views of each planet

Since the apparent sizes and brightness are different for each planet, here’s now to see each of them in turn:

  • Mercury: hard to see with the naked eye, so use binoculars and scan around the horizon.
  • Venus: easy to see with the naked eye—super-bright!

What about Neptune?

It is technically possible, in a very dark sky, to see Neptune with the naked eye as a pale blue dot. The best time to try is to look during the planet’s opposition, when the planet will be at its biggest and brightest. That next happens on September 11, 2020.

What is the meteor shower?

It’s the Delta Aquariids, one of the longest running meteor showers of all. Happening from July 12 through August 23, the Delta Aquariids meteor shower peaks in the early hours of Wednesday, July 29. However, you can look on the few nights around the date and see just as many shooting stars.

How to see the Delta Aquariid meteor shower 2020

Shooting stars—about 20 per hour—will appear to originate from the constellation of Aquarius, the Water Bearer. An hour or two before dawn is the best time to look, in as dark a night as possible, and without any kind of white light in your line of sight, or optical aid to narrow your view.