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The Naked-Eye Appearance of the Planets

Planetary Movements through the Zodiac

Find the Planets in Your Local Night Sky


Visibility of the Planets,

2008 to 2020

 When are the Planets on view?

by Martin J. Powell

 

Click on a year to be taken directly to the relevant table, then click on the thumbnail to see the full-size table (all tables are 23 KB in size):

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

The following tables provide an indication of the times of the day in which to view each of the planets between 2008 and 2020. The table entries can be read horizontally by planet (to track the changing visibility of a particular planet during the year) or vertically by month (to determine the visibility status of all the planets in any single month).

Visibility times of the planets are shown here in general terms for each year; for an explanation of the table entries, see the box below. With the exception of Mercury, the times are based on the planets' positions at mid-month. Note that, although a planet may be listed as being visible at a particular time in a month, this does not necessarily mean that it will be visible from all locations on Earth. The observer's latitude and the local season can affect whether a planet is seen or not; this is particularly so for the 'Dawn' and 'Dusk' entries and especially so in the case of Mercury (see under Mercury's description for more details). Since the planets' viewing times can change in the course of a month (eg. from Dawn to Morning sky visibility) the entries inevitably contain an element of imprecision; consequently the table should only be used as a general guide to assess the times at which to view the planets.

Explanation of the entries used in

the Planetary Visibility Tables

The planet is too close to the Sun and is not visible

The planet is too close to the Sun and is not visible.

The planet is visible in the Eastern sky for an hour or so before sunrise

The planet is visible in the Eastern sky for an hour or so before sunrise (for a specific direction to look, refer to the planet's Ephemeris details by clicking on the planet's name). The planet may or may not be visible depending upon the observer's latitude, the local season, the planet's current apparent magnitude and the local sky conditions. For Mercury and Venus, bold lettering (e.g. Dawn) indicates the month in which the planet's greatest western elongation takes place. Mercury is only visible for short periods of time, so the word is positioned at the left of the box to indicate the early part of a month, the centre of the box to indicate the middle part of the month, or at the right of the box to indicate the later part of a month.

The planet is visible in the Western sky for an hour or so after sunset

The planet is visible in the Western sky for an hour or so after sunset (for a specific direction to look, refer to the planet's Ephemeris details by clicking on the planet's name). The planet may or may not be visible depending upon the observer's latitude, the local season, the planet's current apparent magnitude and the local sky conditions. For Mercury and Venus, bold lettering (e.g. Dusk) indicates the month in which the planet's greatest eastern elongation takes place. Mercury is only visible for short periods of time, so the word is positioned at the left of the box to indicate the early part of a month, the

centre of the box to indicate the middle part of the month, or the right of the box to indicate the later part of a month.

The planet is best seen in the Morning sky (after local midnight but before dawn)

The planet is best seen in the Morning sky (after local midnight but before dawn); it reaches its highest point in the sky when it crosses the local meridian (due South in the Northern hemisphere; due North in the Southern hemisphere) during the morning hours (i.e. meridian transit takes place between ca. 0100 and 1000 Local Mean Time).

The planet is best seen in the Evening sky (after dusk but before local midnight)

The planet is best seen in the Evening sky (after dusk but before local midnight); it reaches its highest point in the sky (when it crosses the local meridian) during the late afternoon or evening hours (i.e. meridian transit takes place between ca. 1400 and 2300 Local Mean Time).

The planet is visible All Night (from dusk to dawn) or for most of the night

The planet is visible All Night (from dusk to dawn) or for most of the night; it reaches its highest point in the sky (when it crosses the local meridian) within an hour or so on either side of local midnight (meridian transit takes place between ca. 2300 and 0100 Local Mean Time). For the superior planets (Mars and beyond), bold lettering (AN) indicates that the planet's opposition occurs during the month (for the specific date of opposition, refer to the planet's Ephemeris details by clicking on the planet's name). The best time to view a superior planet is about a month or so on either side of its opposition date.

[Terms in yellow italics are explained in greater detail in an associated article describing planetary movements in the night sky.]

Click on a year to be taken directly to the relevant table, then click on the thumbnail to see the full-size table (all tables are 23 KB in size):

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

Star charts showing the current positions of the planets in the night sky (i.e. among the constellations) can be found by selecting the relevant planet links at the top of the page. Specific dates of the planets' orbital configurations (i.e. oppositions, conjunctions and elongations) can be found under the Ephemeris Dates section of each planet's entry.

Planetary Conjunctions

When two or more planets are listed as being visible at 'Dawn' or 'Dusk' in any particular month (e.g. if Mercury, Venus and Mars all appear listed under 'Dusk' in a single month) they are likely to appear close together in the sky during this time, and planetary conjunctions (when two planets are at the same celestial longitude) are most likely to take place. Tables of planetary conjunctions are included in each of the planet position pages: Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Because they mostly occur around dawn or dusk, conjunctions can often be difficult to observe, depending upon the observer's latitude and the local season. For this reason, the tables on each planet page include an assessment of the likely visibility of each conjunction from both Northern and Southern hemispheres.

2008

Table showing the general visibility times of the planets in 2008

 

 2009

Table showing the general visibility times of the planets in 2009

 

 2010

Table showing the general visibility times of the planets in 2010

 ^ See Table Explanation

 ^ Back to Top of Page 

 2011

Table showing the general visibility times of the planets in 2011

 

 2012

Table showing the general visibility times of the planets in 2012

* A transit of Venus across the Sun took place on June 5th/6th 2012

2013

Table showing the general visibility times of the planets in 2013

 ^ See Table Explanation

 ^ Back to Top of Page 

 2014

Table showing the general visibility times of the planets in 2014

 

2015

Table showing the general visibility times of the planets in 2015

 

 2016

Table showing the general visibility times of the planets in 2016

* A transit of Mercury across the Sun took place on May 9th 2016

 ^ See Table Explanation

 ^ Back to Top of Page 

2017

Table showing the general visibility times of the planets in 2017

 

 2018

Table showing the general visibility times of the planets in 2018

 

 2019

Table showing the general visibility times of the planets in 2019

* A transit of Mercury across the Sun takes place on November 11th 2019

2020

Table showing the general visibility times of the planets in 2020

 ^ See Table Explanation

 ^ Back to Top of Page 


Visibility of the Planets, 2008-2020 (Full Desktop Site)

The Naked-Eye Planets in the Night Sky

Planetary Movements through the Zodiac


Mercury

Venus

Mars

Jupiter

Saturn

Uranus

Neptune

Pluto


Credits


Copyright  Martin J Powell  February 2014


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