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5 planets will align across the sky on Tuesday night. Here's how to see them

Five planets aligning in the sky this week
5 planets aligning in the sky this week 03:53

People can catch a five-planet alignment on Tuesday night as Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, Uranus and Mars will appear across the night sky. 

The planets will align on Tuesday, according to Bill Cooke, a lead at NASA's meteoroid environment office. He told CBS News the alignment will look "very pretty."

"If you go outside, right at sunset, right after the sun goes down and look west, you'll see these planets strung out in a line extending about 50 degrees or so," he said. 

In terms of optimal viewing conditions, Cooke said you need to have a "clear western horizon" when twilight begins to appear. Jupiter, Venus and Mars will be easy to see, he said, while Mercury and especially Uranus will require a pair of binoculars.

"Anybody who can see the sun will be able to see it," Cooke added. 

Jupiter and Mercury will be located closer to the horizon, while Mars will be next to the moon. Venus will be nearby and Uranus will appear as a "greenish star" right above the moon. 

The large planetary alignment, which is defined as an alignment of five or six planets, will be visible in the days before and after, but March 28 will be the best day for observation, according to the astronomy guide app Star Walk

"Uranus is going to be the rare critter that you'll be looking for in that alignment," he told CBS News. "If you're collecting planets, here's the chance to add Uranus to your collection." 

Former Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin tweeted in anticipation of the event. 

"Don't forget to look to the sky [at] the end of the month for the planetary alignment which will have at least five planets — plus the moon — all visible in almost an arc shape as seen from Earth," he wrote. 

There will be other opportunities this year to catch a planetary alignment, including on April 11 and later in the summer on August 24. Another five-planet alignment of Mercury, Uranus, Jupiter, Neptune and Saturn can also be seen June 17.

Last June, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn lined up in that rare order — the same as their natural positions from the sun — for the first time since December 2004.

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