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In the Sky This Month

The bright lights of spring take over the night sky. Regulus leads Leo across the sky, with the lion’s head and mane spreading above it in the evening hours, and its body and tail to the left and upper left. The tail ends at another bright star, Denebola. Spica, the leading light of Virgo, follows Leo, with the brilliant planet Jupiter close by.

May 26: Around the Galaxy

While the Moon orbits Earth and Earth orbits the Sun, the Sun isn’t exactly standing still. In fact, it’s racing around the center of the Milky Way galaxy, carrying Earth and the other planets with it.

May 27: Northern Crown

A pretty little semicircle of stars crowns the sky on spring and summer nights: Corona Borealis, the northern crown. It’s high in the east as night falls, and stands overhead a few hours later. In a couple of months, it will be overhead at nightfall.

May 28: M83

Hydra, the water snake, wriggles across the southwest this evening. The galaxy M83 is near its tail, low in the south at nightfall. Under dark skies, some people can see the galaxy as a smudge of light. It is the most-distant object visible to the human eye, at about 15 million light-years.

May 29: Charting a Path

Cygnus, the swan, is a signpost for charting Earth’s path through the galaxy. As you face Cygnus as it rises in the northeast, you’re looking forward in our orbit around the Milky Way. The center of the galaxy is to the right, in Sagittarius.

May 30: Moon and Regulus

The Moon has a familiar companion the next couple of evenings: Regulus, the heart of Leo, the lion. The bright star stands to the upper left of the Moon tonight, and closer to the right or lower right tomorrow night.

May 31: Kornephoros

Mighty Hercules stands high in the east as night falls at this time of year. The constellation’s brightest star represents the entire strongman: Its name, Kornephoros, comes from a Greek word that means “the club bearer” — Hercules himself.

June 1: Menkent

Centaurus wheels low across the south on June nights. In fact, much of the constellation stays below the horizon. The brightest star in Centaurus that’s visible from most of the United States is Menkent, a name that means “shoulder of the centaur.”

Current moon phase

First QuarterFirst May 2, 9:47 pm

Full MoonFull May 10, 4:42 pm

Last quarterLast May 18, 7:33 pm

New MoonNew May 25, 2:44 pm

Times are U.S. Central Time.

Apogee May 12

Perigee May 25

The full Moon of May is known as the Milk Moon, Flower Moon, or Corn Moon.