A plethora of worlds and a bright star will be visible in the early morning Wednesday (March 23) to predawn risers.
Let’s start with the moon and Antares. The quarter moon will be glowing above the red star, which is called the “rival of Mars” because it looks so much like the Red Planet. Antares is the heart of the constellation Scorpius (the Scorpion) and is notable to astronomers because the star is late in its life, as a red giant.
In the southeast before sunrise, you can also go planet-hunting as three bright worlds show up. All three are visible to the naked eye, but if you have binoculars or a telescope, you will see them a bit more clearly.
If you’re looking for binoculars or a telescope to see planets in the night sky, check our our guide for the best binoculars deals and the best telescope deals now. If you need photography equipment, consider our best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography to prepare for the next planet sight.
See the planets and the moon?
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Venus is easy to catch in the southeast before sunrise, as it glows brightly in white at -4.7 magnitude. Just below it will be Mars, the Red Planet, getting closer to magnitude 1 as the month wears on. (For comparison, most people with normal vision can see stars as dim as magnitude 6 in a dark sky.)
Mars and Venus won’t show much more detail in binoculars or a telescope, but you may get lucky with Saturn and see its rings. Saturn will be somewhat dim at 0.7 magnitude or so, but it should be bright enough to spot with the naked eye if you know where to look in the east-southeast portion of the sky.
Planetary alignments like this are happily common because the moon, Earth and planets all orbit along the same plane in our solar system, known as the ecliptic. So even if you are clouded out for this opportunity, you’ll still have a chance to see Venus, Mars and Saturn in a celestial triangle before dawn on Sunday and Monday (March 27 and 28.)