Dennis believes he sees Jupiter in Belgian skies: How to distinguish visible stars and when to see them?

Dennis believes he sees Jupiter in Belgian skies: How to distinguish visible stars and when to see them?

Sometimes even without our knowledge, we are used to seeing stars other than normal stars in our sky after dark. Dennis looked into the clear Brussels night sky a few days ago and wondered if the star he saw was the most distant planet, Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, 628 million kilometers from Earth.

It’s hard to say for sure it’s Jupiter because the photo isn’t of extraordinary quality, but it’s possible“, explains Dr. Lee Bin San Baum of the Royal Observatory of Belgium.”That night, three planets were visible in the sky: Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.“.

If Dennis had photographed the sky before 9 p.m., it would have excluded Saturn rising after that time. And if he took the photo before midnight, it couldn’t have been Mars, which rises even later.

Depending on their positions relative to Earth and the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are visible after sunset, before sunset, or even during most of the night.

5 Planets visible to the naked eye according to periods

Depending on the time of year and night, the 5 closest planets to Earth, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are visible to the naked eye. The other two planets in the solar system, Uranus and Neptune, are out of range.

If Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are visible throughout the night, this is not the case for Mercury and Venus: being closer to the Sun than the Earth, it is impossible for these planets to be behind the Earth in relation to the Sun.

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You can see below Monitoring calendar About the visible dates of planets in our sky. Note that this table shows the months of 2022. Visibility varies from year to year.


(c) Royal Observatory of Belgium

How to distinguish them, an ignorant?

Now that we know when to look for them, we still need to know how to tell them apart. “Not easy for the uninitiated eye“, says Dr. Lê Binh San Pham.”From a distance, visible planets look like stars in the sky, but they do not twinkle“. Also, since these planets revolve around the Sun, unlike the stars, their positions are comparable to those of the stars.

A few things are similar to try to identify them: First is Venus, which some call the ‘evening star’. It is much brighter than the others, followed by Jupiter, the second most visible planet. As for Mars, because of the color of its soil, it is distinguished by its luminous glow, although it is not always visible, especially when the planet is far from the Sun.

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