Stargazing Information

May’s evening skies are soft and subdued. Leo leaps high across the sky, with the twins of Gemini sinking in the west, along with the nearby brilliant star Capella. Equally brilliant Arcturus climbs high overhead. The planets make up for some of the faintness of the stars, though. Venus, the Evening Star, is well up in the west, climbing toward Gemini’s twins. The next-brightest dot in the night sky, the planet Jupiter, is higher in the sky. And though it’s not as brilliant as its sibling worlds, giant Saturn puts in its best showing of the year, sparkling all night.

This Week's Stargazing Tips

May 26: Omega Centauri

About 160 known globular clusters orbit the center of the Milky Way galaxy. The biggest and brightest is Omega Centauri, which is low in the south in early evening. It may be the stripped core of a smaller galaxy that the Milky Way took over long ago.

May 27: Vanishing Winter

Some of the bright lights of winter are dropping from the evening sky. Low in the west at nightfall, look for Procyon in Canis Minor, the little dog. And look to its upper right for the twins of Gemini above Venus, the “evening star.”

May 28: Crowning the Crown

Corona Borealis, the northern crown, stands half-way up the eastern sky as darkness falls this evening. It is a small semicircle of moderately bright stars that opens to the left. It is crowned by a binary star system known as Alphecca.

May 29: Early Beacon

Spica is close to the right of the Moon at nightfall. The brightest star of Virgo shines blue-white, indicating that its surface is thousands of degrees hotter than the Sun’s.

May 30: Ophiuchus

Ophiuchus, the serpent bearer, is in good view tonight. The big constellation clears the eastern horizon by about 10 p.m., and arcs high across the south during the night. Most of its stars are relatively faint, so you need a starchart to find them.

May 31: Moon in Balance

The gibbous Moon is in “balance” tonight. It is passing through Libra, the balance scales. Libra’s two brightest stars are close above the Moon. The bright planet Saturn is a little farther to the lower left of the Moon, with orange Antares below Saturn.

June 1: Moon and Saturn

The planet Saturn is in good view tonight. It looks like a bright golden star close to the upper right of the Moon at nightfall, and it stays near the Moon all night.

Check last week's tips if you missed a day.


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