The planets can seem like boring targets to observe to some; however, planets provide a rich history of observation and are great opportunities for observers of all ages and skills. Whether it be because of their ease of finding, availability of observation in light polluted skies, or just really beautiful to view, planets make great observing targets.
Easily Recognizable By Others
If you’re looking for items in the sky to show to others, such as family or friends, the planets are a great way to show them something they recognize. The planets of Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars do appear similar to what they look like in photos, except for being smaller in size. When people view Saturn for the first time, their reactions are often priceless and really amazing!
Great For Testing Gear
If you[re testing new gear, then observing the planets provide a great low stakes opportunity to be able to learn the new gear. As one can view the planets from a light polluted area, one can find an area they are comfortable testing the new gear and learn. This learning opportunity will help provide some confident in using the new gear, even if it is just looking at planets.
Provide Great Detail
As planets such as Saturn and Jupiter are visible in even smaller telescopes, they provide a great amount of detail. Hence, one can make out the rings of Saturn and the Great Red Spot on Jupiter. This provides an amazing and unforgettable experience, especially the first time viewing them. This detail provides a great viewing experience for all!
Easier To Find In The Sky
Because the planets are closer to Earth, they can appear brighter in the sky. However, in the case of Venus, the star is really bright, but not always clear when viewing through a telescope. Therefore, they can be easier to identify as planets versus other stars in the sky. Moreover, planets move throughout the sky in patterns, just as other stars do. In more light polluted skies, the deeper sky objects are not necessarily visible and washed out, but the planets will still be visible.
Help Improve Your Ability To Navigate The Sky
When you recognize and observe a planet, you learn to understand what it looks like in the sky. Therefore, one can help identify the object in the sky when others ask and start to use them as a reference coordinate for finding other objects. Another example is that you might be somewhere and someone might ask, “What is that bright star in the sky,” and if you know it’s a planet, then you know the answer.