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Last Week's Stargazing Tips

May 25: The Centaur

Late spring is a good time to look for the constellation Centaurus, the mythological half-man, half-horse. His head and shoulders stand due south, quite low above the horizon, about three hours after sunset.

May 24: Grand M81

Under clear, dark skies you can spot the spiral galaxy M81 with binoculars. At nightfall, it stands below the bowl of the Big Dipper, which is high in the north. The galaxy looks like an oval smudge of light that is almost as wide as the Moon.

May 23: Disappearing Star

As the last blush of twilight begins to fade away, look almost due west for Procyon, the little dog star. It’s not all that high in the sky, but if you have a clear horizon it will stand out.

May 22: Moon and Companions

The Moon and three bright companions arc low across the south tonight. The planet Saturn is close to the right of the Moon at nightfall, with the star Antares farther to the right. Orange Mars stands above them all, shining brightest for the year.

May 21: Moon and Mars

Mars lines up opposite the Sun tomorrow, so it shines at its brightest for the next two years. It looks like a brilliant star. It stands to the right of the full Moon as darkness falls tonight, with the planet Saturn and the star Antares below them.

May 20: Mars Opposition II

Mars is in the southeast as darkness falls tonight, below the Moon. The Moon will move closer to the bright orange planet as they arc across the south during the night. They will be even closer tomorrow night.

May 19: Mars Opposition

Mars is putting in its best appearance of the year this week. It rises around sunset, remains in view all night, and is at its brightest. Look for it low in the southeast as night falls, shining like a brilliant orange star.