Can Telescopes See Planets?

Short answer, yes! Even a very small telescope will let you see the other planets in our solar system.

You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll see when you look up at the night sky.

The Sun is so bright that it can blind us if we stare directly into its rays for too long. But the sun isn’t the only star out there.

Can Telescopes See Planets?

In fact, there are thousands of stars visible to the naked eye, and many more than that which you can see with the help of binoculars or telescopes.

Stars can be seen with telescopes because they emit their own light. They shine by converting mass into energy through nuclear fusion reactions.

The process releases huge amounts of energy as radiation, leaving behind an object called a stellar remnant.

These remnants include neutron stars, black holes, white dwarfs, and red giants.

So, even though they are so far away, we still see their light through our telescopes – that’s how brightly they shine!

But what about planets? Do they also give off light? And if so, where does this light come from?

Planets are not like stars. Stars are large balls of gas held together by gravity.

When a massive star dies, it collapses on itself and becomes a supernova explosion.

This blast of energy blows off most of the outer layers of the star but leaves behind a dense core of matter.

If the remaining material has enough mass, it will collapse under its own weight and forms a new star.

If the material doesn’t have enough mass, however, then the gravitational pull of the surrounding stars keeps drawing it in until all the matter is squeezed into a tiny ball called a planet.

Planets are made mostly of rock, gas, and metal, and some contain ice.

When a planet forms, it gets hot, so the gases inside the planet start to expand.

As the gases move around, they push against each other. This causes friction, and the friction creates more heat.

This heat makes the planet glow. We call this glowing “planetary albedo.” It’s similar to the way sunlight reflects off clouds.

A cloud appears dark because it absorbs most of the sunlight hitting it; the rest bounces back toward earth.

Similarly, a planet glows because it reflects most of the sunlight coming towards it.

This planetary albedo gives us a clue as to why we don’t see any planets orbiting near the Sun.

Since the Sun is so bright, it would block out almost everything else.

So, if we could somehow detect the light reflected off a planet, we’d know it was there.

Unfortunately, we can’t see the light from a distant planet. Instead, we must use another method: transit spectroscopy.

Transit spectroscopy works by watching a planet pass in front of its host star.

As the planet passes in front of the star, it blocks part of the starlight.

By measuring the amount of light blocked, scientists can tell how much atmosphere there is between the planet and the star.

From these measurements, they can determine the size of the planet and estimate its temperature.

How Do We See Planets With A Telescope?

How Do We See Planets With A Telescope?

Watching the planets through a telescope ranks high among the things people want to do before they die.

Each kind of telescope reveals different details of the universe, including details of various planets and galaxies.

If you get a small telescope, you will still be able to see details on giant planets because they reflect so much light from the surrounding stars.

Telescopes ranging from medium to large sizes will allow you to see Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, even in heavily light-polluted areas! 

How To See Mercury

Mercury is the closest planet to the sun. Because it is close to the sun, it receives more radiation than any other planet. The result is that Mercury is very hot.

In fact, Mercury is the hottest planet in our solar system. Its average temperature is about 600 degrees Fahrenheit (315 degrees Celsius). That’s hotter than molten lead or iron!

This proximity to the sun can make it tricky for us to observe Mercury, as the glare of the sun simply outshines the little planet, but you’ll be glad to know that if you want to catch a glimpse of the Sun’s planetary neighbor, it is possible.

The best time to observe Mercury is when it is positioned either farthest from the Sun in the eastern sky in the morning or farthest from the Sun at night.

Be careful when looking at Mercury because even at these times, it will always be close to the sun, risking your eyesight if you stare directly at it!

Though you may not be able to see many details of Mercury in the sky, you should be able to observe the different phases of the planet as it passes on its journey between Earth and the Sun. 

How To See Venus

Venus is the next planet out from the sun. Like Mercury, Venus is closer to the sun than any other planet. As a result, the planet gets a lot of heat. 

This extreme heat makes it difficult for life to survive on the surface of Venus.

There are two reasons why: First, the atmosphere of Venus is almost 100 times thicker than Earth’s.

And second, the pressure of the air on Venus’ surface is 92 times greater than the pressure of the air here on Earth. These factors combine to create a crushingly thick atmosphere.

In addition to being too hot for humans, Venus is also covered by clouds. These clouds are composed mainly of sulfur dioxide gas.

They cover most of the planet except for the poles where there is a permanent cloudless zone.

To view Venus, look for the brightest star in the evening sky.

When Venus appears low in the western sky in the evening, you can use binoculars to spot the planet.

You’ll need to look carefully though because Venus is often hidden behind the glare of the Sun.

When viewing Venus using telescopes, you will notice that the planet looks like a bright red ball.

If you have a telescope equipped with a special filter, you can view the planet without having to worry about hurting your eyes.

With your telescope, you should be able to pick out that Venus has features ranging from dusty shades to bright spots. Look for a big “C” or “Y” shaped feature near the center of the planet.

You can watch Venus orbit the Sun just like Mercury and the moon, seeing the different phases it goes through as it appears to change shape with the light reflecting off of its surface. 

How To See Mars

Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun.

You don’t have to wait for the next time Mars and Earth are closest together before you can see them. Though they are closest once every 2 years and 2 months.

If Mars’ atmosphere has transparency, you’ll be able to see detail several months before this time and several months after.

Once you’ve found the planet Mars with your telescope, use high magni­fication to look at it up-close. Focus on one area or one feature at once. 

Final Thoughts

Long story short, you can see a good chunk of planets with even the lowliest of telescopes.

You can also of course see Jupiter and catch the magnificent rings of Saturn in the right climates with a good piece of kit, not to mention the Milky Way in all its glory and many other galaxies! The universe really is right at your doorstep, so get exploring! You’ll be amazed how much you can see just by putting your eye to a telescope!

Gordon Watts