The great planetary conjunctions just keep rolling along. Venus and Jupiter begin this month as they ended the previous one, appearing to almost touch each other in the dawn sky. Jupiter stages a similarly close encounter with Mars late in the month. With summer approaching, however, sunrise comes early, so you’ll need to awaken in the wee hours of the morning to catch the action.
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In the Sky This Month
May 19: Northern Crown
Corona Borealis, the northern crown, soars high across the sky tonight. It is fairly low in the east at sunset but stands high overhead around midnight. Although its individual stars are modest, combined they form a striking semicircle, like a crown.
May 20: Terzan 5
The star cluster Terzan 5 is in Sagittarius. The constellation climbs into good view, in the southeast, after midnight, and is low in the south-southwest at first light. Its stars outline a teapot. Terzan 5 is above the spout, in the “steam” of the Milky Way.
May 21: Moon and Saturn
The giant planet Saturn tags along with the Moon, which is roughly at last quarter, early tomorrow. They climb into good view by about 3 a.m. Saturn looks like a bright star, directly above the Moon at first light.
May 22: Faint Giant
Hercules is in his prime at this time of year. The strongman is well up in the eastern sky at nightfall and stands high overhead in the wee hours of the morning. And as seems only proper, Hercules is a giant — only four constellations are bigger.
May 23: Moon, Mars, and Jupiter
Look for the Moon at dawn tomorrow. The bright planets Jupiter and Mars are to its left. Jupiter is by far the brighter of the two, while Mars shows a distinctly orange hue.
May 24: Beta Bootis
Bootes, the herdsman, is high in the sky at nightfall. It looks like a faint kite, with bright yellow-orange Arcturus at the tail. The top of the kite is Beta Bootis. Three decades ago, it produced one of the most powerful explosions ever seen from a “normal” star.
May 25: Two Pair
Two pairs of bright worlds highlight the dawn sky the next couple of days: the Moon and Venus, and Jupiter and Mars. Jupiter and Mars are in view by a couple of hours before sunrise, low in the east. The Moon and Venus, the Morning Star, rise a little later.
First May 8, 7:21 pm
Full May 15, 11:14 pm
Last May 22, 1:43 pm
New May 30, 6:30 am
Times are U.S. Central Time.
Apogee May 5
Perigee May 17
The full Moon of May is known as the Milk Moon, Flower Moon, or Corn Moon.