Mercury and Venus are visible in the western sky, whereas Jupiter and Saturn are visible in the morning sky. Find a dark-sky area near you by visiting EarthSky's Best Places to Stargaze. Then use these pointers to help you find these planets in the night sky:
Venus is the brightest object in the evening sky after the Sun goes down, before it rises again. So look for it west of the Sun just before sunset.
Mars is the brightest object in the morning sky just as the Sun comes up. Look for it east of the Sun just after sunrise.
Jupiter is the most magnificent object in the night sky during its annual migration north. So look for it in the spring, when it can be found south of the Sun, and then move north with it over time.
Saturn is the last planet to go down on the horizon, so look for it in the west just before sunset.
Uranus is best seen with the naked eye from afar, especially in the early morning or late evening skies. It's bright blue-white color makes it stand out against the blackness of space. Find it by looking for a faint greenish-blue dot about 1/3 of the way up into the night sky.
Jupiter and Saturn are morning planets. Earth orbits in between them, so they appear in the east just before dawn.
Jupiter is over 12 billion years old and has four major moons: Ganymede, Io, Europa, and Metis. It also has 16 smaller moons.
The largest planet in the solar system is also by far the most important for life on Earth because of its impact on weather and climate. Jupiter dominates the sky as a bright object during the night, but it's not easy to see with the unaided eye under normal circumstances. It can be seen with the naked eye as a white light that fades after midnight. Astronomers use it as a guide to locate other objects in the night sky because it never moves from east to west across the sky.
Saturn is only slightly smaller than Jupiter but much more dense. It has many beautiful features including clouds and rainbows. Its atmosphere is made up of hydrogen and helium with some methane present as well.
Uranus is the next-largest planet and is mostly gas.
Before or before sunrise, a brilliant planet (such as Venus) can be seen in the eastern sky. This is because it is close to the sun, so it always shows up in the east at sunset and in the west at sunrise.
The Morning Star is also known as Lucifer, Satan, Mephistopheles, or Ragna Rock. It is the name given to the Devil or any other spirit associated with sin and evil.
According to Christian mythology, he is the ruler of Hell who was cast out of Heaven for trying to lead all mankind into sin. However, he was not killed like most people think, instead he was assigned to roam the earth until the day of judgment when he will be thrown into the lake of fire along with the wicked.
In some cultures, such as that of Egypt, the Morning Star was represented by a beautiful young woman named Isis. She was the goddess of love and beauty and she controlled all forms of life including animals and humans. Ishtar was another ancient Babylonian goddess who was described as mistress of the earth and heaven. She was represented as a mature, beautiful woman with a crown made of stars on her head.
When Mercury appeared in the morning sky, it was known as Apollo, and when it emerged in the evening sky, it was known as Mercury. Mercury and Venus are referred to be "inferior" planets because they circle the sun more closely than Earth. The angle between the sun and a planet as seen from Earth is referred to as elongation. When a planet is near its greatest distance from the sun (perihelion), it appears in the morning or evening sky but is still visible by nightfall; at this time, it is called an evening star or morning star, respectively.
Venus was the first planet to be discovered by human eyes. Because it is the brightest object in the night sky after the moon and precedes the rising of the sun, it was believed to be the god of love until 1610, when Galileo observed that it moved relative to the other planets. This proved that it was a planet like Earth instead. Although it takes approximately eight hours for Venus to rotate around its axis, due to its large size this amount of time seems long. Thus, most people believe that Venus is always bright daylight on its surface.
Mercury is the second-brightest object in the night sky after the moon and before the sun. It is also the closest planet to the sun, with an average distance of 59 million km (37 million miles). As a result, its surface is hot enough to melt ice cubes, and it has several large volcanoes.