There are five naked eye planets that you can learn to recognize in the night sky. These are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Unless you count the Earth.

Learning to recognize them is quite easy for two reason. They all stand out from stars, they all shine brighter and flicker less. Also they each have their own unique attributes.


Mercury is the closest of them all but the most difficult one to spot. Because it’s usually near the sun you will see it around sunset as the first ‘star’ to appear, unless Venus is there already.

Venus is the brightest and is often seen in the early mornings or at dusk.


Jupiter is the most commonly seen as it is usually pretty high up in the sky. It is large and bright with a fairly white yellowish glow.


Saturn is a fair bit darker but you can recognize the steady orangey glow. You can see the rings even with regular binoculars if conditions are good.


Mars is easy to spot because it’s bright red. The star Betelgeuse which is also red is sometimes mistaken for Mars, but Mars doesn’t flicker as much.



Not to scale. Something like what the planets look like through a medium sized telescope.

A tip is to get a skymap app for your phone to help you find the planets in the sky.