This week presents a rare opportunity to see all the major planets of the solar system in a single night.
Just after sunset tonight (Dec. 21) the two brightest planets will be shining, weather permitting. Venus, the brightest, rides low in the southwest just above the setting sun. Jupiter, the second brightest planet, is high in the south.
If you have a telescope, you can find Uranus and Neptune between Venus and Jupiter. The sloping line across the sky that the four planets define is called the ecliptic, because it is the line along which eclipses take place.
The sky maps of the planets available here show where to look to try to spot them this week. Get up around 6:00 am local time tomorrow morning, and you can see the rest of the planets.
The ecliptic is now sloping in the opposite direction, and along it are arrayed Mercury, the Moon, Saturn, and Mars. In the background are three of the brightest stars in the sky: Arcturus, Regulus, and Spica.