PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Five planets — Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Uranus — will align under the moon Tuesday, which OMSI Director of Space Science Education Jim Todd says will be a “unique opportunity” for stargazers.
While local weather is forecast to be cloudy Tuesday, Todd said that stargazers will have more opportunities to view the alignment during the next two weeks, minus the moon. Those interested in viewing the stars with the moon may have better luck traveling north to the Seattle area, where “decreasing clouds” are in the nighttime forecast.
“The highlight, perhaps, is [Tuesday] night, when the moon and Mars are going to be right next to each other,” Todd said.
Those looking to catch the alignment on any day during the next two weeks will need to look toward the Western horizon just after sunset at 7:30 p.m.
“It’s not all lost if you don’t see it tomorrow night, you still have a few more days but the moon is going to be out of the picture,” Todd said. “It’s not that rare, just unique.”
Todd said that anyone with a smartphone or tablet can download one of the free apps that he recommends: “SkyView,” “Google Sky,” “Heavens Above,” “SkyEye” or “Light Pollution Map” to locate the alignment in the sky.
“You can do it from your own home,” he said. “You put it on your phone or tablet and then turn on your location, point toward the west and then it will highlight where they are.”,
As an added bonus, Todd said that the International Space Station will also fly over at roughly the Brightness of Jupiter through April 9.