The best planets to view through a telescope

De beste planeten om door een telescoop te bekijken

The night sky is an endless source of wonder and mystery, with galaxies, nebulae and stars just waiting to be discovered. But for many of us, observing our solar system neighbors, the planets, is one of the most fascinating aspects of astronomy. Whether you want to see the majestic rings of Saturn, the reddish hue of Mars, or the Great Red Spot of Jupiter, a telescope is your gateway to these stunning scenes. In this blog we dive deep into the wonderful world of planetary observation: which telescope works best, when to best see each planet, and tips to optimize your experience. For beginners and experienced stargazers alike, viewing planets with a telescope is sure to deepen your love for the cosmos. So, point your telescope to the sky and let's go on an interplanetary journey together!

Can you see planets with a telescope?

When we look up at the endless expanse of the night sky, it's easy to be overwhelmed by the sparkling stars and mysterious glow of distant galaxies. However, within our own solar system there are wonders that are just as fascinating: the planets. But can you really see planets with a telescope? Let's unravel this question and explore the magic of planetary observation.

1. Yes, you can see planets with a telescope!

The short answer is yes, you can absolutely observe the planets of our solar system with a telescope. In fact, even with modest telescopes, amateur astronomers can observe the prominent features of various planets.

2. What can you expect to see?

  • Jupiter: Our solar system's largest planet offers a display of colorful bands and the famous Great Red Spot. Jupiter's four largest moons, the Galilean moons, are also easy to observe.
  • Saturn: Saturn's rings are visible even with small telescopes and remain a favorite among astronomers.
  • Mars: In optimal conditions and with a good telescope you can make out the polar caps and some surface features of the red planet.
  • Venus: Although it often shines as a bright dot, a telescope can reveal the phases of Venus, similar to the phases of the moon.

3. The Best Times for Planetary Observation.

Planets are not always in the same place or even visible from Earth. Their position in the sky changes depending on their orbit around the sun and our position on Earth. It is essential to monitor the 'opposition' of planets such as Mars or Jupiter, a time when they appear brightest in the sky.

4. Choosing the Right Telescope.

Although you can see planets with almost any telescope, certain models can enhance your experience. Try the Vultus quiz.

When the word "astronomy" comes to mind, many people immediately think of advanced telescopes and complex observation equipment. But did you know that your eyes alone are enough to admire some of the most majestic objects in our solar system? Yes, you read that correctly! You can see planets without a telescope. Dive with us into this fascinating exploration of the visible planets.

1. The Naked Eye: An Ancient Observation Instrument

Even before the telescope was invented, ancient civilizations studied the stars and planets with nothing but their eyes. These celestial bodies served as navigational aids, calendars, and sources of inspiration for myths and stories.

2. Which Planets Are Visible Without a Telescope?

  • Mercury: Although it is close to the Sun, Mercury is visible on the horizon just after sunset or just before sunrise. Look for a bright 'star' close to where the sun just set or rose. Of course, the planet cannot be viewed in detail as with a telescope.
  • Venus: Also called the "evening star" or "morning star," Venus is bright and clearly visible just after sunset or before sunrise.
  • Mars: This red planet is usually visible to the naked eye, especially when close to Earth during an 'opposition'.
  • Jupiter: The largest planet in our solar system is often the brightest 'star' in the night sky.
  • Saturn: Although less bright than Jupiter, Saturn is still visible as a yellowish dot.

3. When to view planets?

Although these planets are visible without a telescope, their visibility and brightness vary depending on their position relative to Earth and the Sun. It is advisable to consult an astronomical calendar or app to find the best viewing times.

4. Tips for Viewing Planets

  • Find a location with minimal light pollution. Dark sky regions provide the clearest view of planets.
  • Give your eyes time to adjust to the dark. It takes about 20 minutes for your eyes to fully adjust.
  • Use a star chart or an astronomy app to help you identify planets.

Which planet is best seen with a telescope?

The cosmos is an endlessly fascinating space, full of stars, nebulae and planets. Many amateur astronomers often ask the question, "Which planet is best seen with a telescope?" If you have or are considering purchasing one, this is the guide for you. Let's explore the heavenly possibilities.

1. Jupiter: A Cosmic Giant

Without a doubt, Jupiter tops the list when it comes to spectacular telescopic observations. Why?

  • Size: As the largest planet in our solar system, Jupiter provides a large and bright target for telescopes of almost any size.
  • Details: Jupiter's cloud bands, with their complex patterns and colors, are clearly visible even with modest telescopes.
  • The Galilean Moons: Four large moons that regularly change position and are easy to see.

2. Saturn: The Ringworld

Saturn is perhaps the most iconic planet to observe. The beautiful rings are visible even in small telescopes and offer a breathtaking view.

  • Rings: Saturn's rings can vary in visibility based on their tilt relative to Earth.
  • Details: With larger telescopes you can observe details such as the Cassini separation (a gap in the rings) and the planet's atmospheric bands.

3. Mars: The Red Warrior

Although Mars is smaller and offers less detail than Jupiter or Saturn, it has a unique red hue and offers the opportunity to observe surface features during oppositions.

  • Surface features: During an opposition, when Mars is close to Earth, areas such as the polar caps and certain valleys can be distinguished.

4. Venus and Mercury: Challenges and Rewards

While not as detailed as the previously mentioned planets, Venus and Mercury offer unique challenges and rewards for the patient observer.

  • Phases: Like our moon, Venus and Mercury go through phases that you can observe with a telescope. 


The question of which planet is best visible with a telescope does not have a clear answer. For grandiose details and constant change, Jupiter is a winner. For the sheer awe of celestial beauty, it's hard to beat Saturn. And for those looking for a challenge, Mars, Venus and Mercury offer fascinating observation opportunities. Regardless of your choice, a good telescope will allow you to see the wonders of our solar system in all their glory. Dive deeper into the world of astronomy and telescopes at