Orion, Taurus, and Auriga, constellations that rep- resent autumn and winter, vanish in the western evening twilight this month. Hercules is well up in the east-northeast by then, with Ophiuchus just climbing into view in the east. Pairs of planets bracket the sky for much of the month: Jupiter and Saturn before dawn, and Venus and Mercury just after sunset.
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In the Sky This Month
May 10: Meeting the Milky Way
Although it is the combined light of millions of stars, the Milky Way is so faint that almost any artificial light source blocks the view. To see the Milky Way, get away from city lights, then look low in the east after midnight.
May 11: New Moon
The Moon is “new” today, as it crosses the imaginary line between Earth and Sun. It is lost in the Sun’s glare but will return to view as a thin crescent quite low in the west early Saturday evening.
May 12: Moon and Venus
The Moon and Venus, which is just beginning its reign as the Evening Star, stand side by side, quite low in the western sky, shortly after sunset. Venus will remain low in the sky for months before finally pulling into better view.
May 13: Moon and Mercury
Mercury is putting in one of its best appearances of the entire year. The little planet is low in the west-northwest as evening twilight fades. It looks like a fairly bright star. Tonight, it’s quite close to the crescent Moon.
May 14: Hercules
The constellation Hercules is in good view by the time it gets dark and soars high overhead during the night. Look for the Keystone — four stars that form a lopsided square. It’s in the northeast as darkness falls.
May 15: Farthest Stars
Virgo is well up in the southeast at nightfall, marked by its brightest star, Spica. The constellation contains the most distant star in our own galaxy yet seen, a million light-years from Earth. It is much too faint to see without a telescope.
May 16: The Cat
The star Felis, the cat, is named for an extinct constellation. It was created by a French astronomer in 1799, then abandoned a century later. The star is low in the southwest at nightfall. Under dark skies, it’s just visible to the unaided eye.
Last May 3, 2:50 pm
New May 11, 2:00 pm
First May 19, 2:13 pm
Full May 26, 2:14 pm
Times are U.S. Central Time.
Apogee May 11
Perigee May 25
The full Moon of May is known as the Milk Moon, Flower Moon or Corn Moon.