KEY POINTS

  • Five planets will be visible to the human eye on Sunday
  • An astronomer gave tips on how to spot the planets
  • The appearance of the cosmic objects in the sky this weekend is a rare event

The planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn will appear visibly in the sky on Sunday along with a crescent moon. According to an astronomer, these planets can be viewed without using a telescope.

The different cosmic bodies are expected to debut in the sky around an hour before sunrise on Sunday. Astronomer Jeffrey Hunt, an educator and former planetarium director, provided tips on how to spot the planets in the sky this weekend.

According to Hunt, it would be ideal to start looking for the planets an hour before the Sun appears. During this time, sky watchers will be able to see a crescent moon in the sky, which is expected to appear in the east-northeast horizon.

The other planets can be spotted in different locations in the sky. Hunt noted that to the human eye, the planets would appear like overly bright stars.

“Step outside early in the morning, at least an hour before sunrise,” Hunt told CNET. “Find the four bright planets -- Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. They look like overly bright stars. Brilliant Venus is low in the east-northeast. Mars is the lone 'star' in the southeast, and Jupiter and Saturn are the stars in the southwest. To your eyes, they won't look like the photos made by spacecraft, just overly bright stars.”

As for Mercury, the astronomer noted that spotting this planet on Sunday might be a bit challenging. According to Hunt, this planet will appear about five degrees to the right of the crescent moon.

To measure this distance, Hunt suggested stretching out the arm and making a fist. The distance between the thumb knuckle and the pointer finger knuckle is equivalent to five degrees.

Although Mercury will be bright enough to be spotted by the human eye, using a pair of binoculars will provide a better and clearer view of the planet.

Hunt noted that the appearance of the planets and the crescent moon on Sunday is considered a rare event.

“Five planets and the crescent moon are in the sky at one time! During the next few mornings five planets are visible, but without the moon. Additionally, Jupiter is quickly leaving the sky,” he stated on his website.

Triple Conjunction A crescent moon is seen below the planets Jupiter (L) and Venus (R) in the sky over Ammanin December 2008. Photo: reuters