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5-Planet Lineup Above Oregon / Washington Coast: Jupiter, Mars, Uranus, Venus, Mercury

Published 03/27/23 at 6:40 PM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

5-Planet Lineup Above Oregon / Washington Coast: Jupiter, Mars, Uranus, Venus, Mercury

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(Astoria, Oregon) – If the clouds finally break (and they mayy periodically), the Oregon coast and Washington coast will get to see a very rare show of planets. Tonight through Thursday brings a showing of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Uranus into the western skies, all jumbled quite close to each other and near the moon. (All photos Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

The weather forecasts for the bulk of the Pacific Northwest won't cooperate most of the time, but some cloud breaks will happen on occasion tonight (Monday) and Tuesday night – which is the best night to spot these planets. There's great news in this for photographers along the Oregon coast or Washington coast, as the whole astronomical shebang takes place in the western skies – which means right over the ocean.

To boot, these five of our solar system buddies are best viewed shortly after dusk, so those with the right camera gear will get an eyeful (or lens-full) of blue hour as they line up near the moon.

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Best time to check is within 30 minutes of sunset. Mercury and Jupiter fall below the horizon after that. The entire event stretches from near the horizon to about halfway up the sky.

While it starts tonight, Monday, and runs through Thursday, March 30, the best viewing is tomorrow – Tuesday. Astronomers say look just after dusk and to the west, where a partial moon will be looming a ways above the horizon.

Seal Rock at night

Flat beach spots like Long Beach, Grayland, Seaside, Lincoln City, Horsfall or Nesika will be great for this. Even better photographic moments may come from beaches that have rocky structures jutting up from the sands, creating interesting silhouettes for blue hour photos. These also give the viewer a good hook by which to ID the spot. Those includes Seal Rock, Oceanside, Rialto Beach on the north Washington coast, Cannon Beach or Bandon.

Astronomers say Jupiter, Venus and Mars will all be very bright in the skies and easily identified. But Mercury and Uranus will take binoculars to spot, as they're quite dim. Those photographing will require long exposures anyway, so this will make glimpses of those two easier to find in the final result. Mercury will have quite the reddish glow.

Other planetary line-ups happen on occasion, with different planets being involved. This particular set won't appear together again until 2040.

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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