This year, trick-or-treating probably doesn’t look like you thought it would, and Halloween parties are (hopefully, in the name of public health) cancelled, but there’s still something pretty spectacular going on tonight. Best of all, it’s free and you can probably see it from your own backyard (or fire escape). Not only is there a rare Blue Moon tonight, but there’s also the possibility of spotting Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus. Here’s where and when to find them.
Where and when to find the moon and planets
First things first: the moon will not actually be blue. But, for a brief period—as it rises above the eastern horizon—it will be orange, which is even more appropriate given the holiday. So when exactly will that happen? It depends on where you live, but you can check on that here. In New York City, for example, moonrise will be at 6:13 pm tonight.
According to Jamie Carter at Forbes, here’s where to look:
Look east as the Sun sets in the west. In practice you won’t see the full Moon appear until about 10-15 minutes after the moonrise time because of atmospheric cloud low on the horizon and other obstructions.
What about those planets? Mars will be in the southeast sky, where it’ll be the brightest thing up there, after the moon. Next up: Saturn and Jupiter. “They’ll be the two bright dots dancing next to each other to the west,” Nicholas St. Fleur writes for the New York Times. “Jupiter will outshine its ringed cousin and be the brightest non-moon object on this half of the sky.” Plus, if you’re able to get up before sunrise on Sunday morning, you’ll also be able to see Venus and possibly Mercury below it.
And finally, there’s Uranus. You’re going to need a telescope for this one, and the planet will look like a small blue-green disc. Here’s where to find it, courtesy of Michele Debczak at Mental Floss:
Spotting Uranus at opposition will be slightly more difficult in 2020 than in years past. The phenomenon coincides with a full moon that will make dimmer stars and planets—including Uranus—harder to see in the night sky. The planet sits in the constellation Aries, which regrettably appears close to the moon for most of the night.
Fingers crossed for clear skies!