If you're searching for a way to distract yourself from all the nonsense Earthlings are currently putting each other through, try directing your gaze toward the brightest planets in the sky in February 2017. Unless Planet X really does turn out to be barreling toward Earth at top speed (which, let's face it, is unlikely), planet-watching is rarely as spectacular as catching a meteor shower or a solar eclipse— but honestly, things are busy enough here on Earth. Grabbing a blanket and some binoculars and enjoying the starry sky sounds like a fabulously soothing time.
Despite what you may think, you don't need a telescope to see most planets in our solar system. The five brightest planets — Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn — can often be seen with the naked eye as long as you know where to look, but they're rarely visible all at the same time. According to Naked Eye Planets, each planet's brightness depends on its position relative to Earth, apparent size, and of course, proximity to the Sun. Their own reflected light is always outshone by the Sun, which can't be good for their planetary self-esteem. A number of planets will be shining particularly brightly his month, though, so at least they've got that going for them.
If you're worried about being able to tell the difference between stars and planets, there are some general characteristics to keep in mind. If you're a long-time skywatcher, you'll be able to notice that while stars seem fixed in their positions in the sky, planets move around up there. But that's something you'll only notice if you an eye on the heavens more nights than not — a more obvious difference lies in the quality of light given off. Stars appear to twinkle, while planets shine with a steady light.
Now that you have some pointers in mind, here are the brightest planets to watch in February.