Last Week's Stargazing Tips

May 21: Moon and Venus

Venus teams up with the Moon to put on a grand showing this evening. Venus is the brilliant “evening star” to the right of the Moon as night falls. It far outshines all the other planets and stars in the night sky, so you can’t miss it.

May 20: Saturn at Opposition II

Saturn is best known for its rings. They span about two-thirds of the distance from Earth to the Moon. If you have a telescope, you can see them yourself right now. The planet is low in the southeast at nightfall and looks like a bright golden star.

May 19: Distant Star

Rasalgethi, the brightest star of Ophiuchus, the serpent bearer, is in the east at nightfall and soars high overhead later on. It is about 380 light-years away, so its light has been traveling since not long after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock.

May 18: Saturn at Opposition

The giant planet Saturn will be at opposition on Friday, lining up opposite the Sun in our sky. The planet is in view as night falls, remains in the sky all night, and shines brightest for the year, outshining all but a few planets and stars.

May 17: The Crow

Corvus, the crow, is due south at nightfall, to the lower right of the bright star Spica, the leading light of Virgo. Four stars form an angled box that looks like a sail.

May 16: Rising Serpent

The head of the serpent is slithering into the evening sky this month, with its tail twisting along a bit later. Serpens is the only constellation that’s split apart. The two halves are separated by Ophiuchus, the serpent bearer.

May 15: Starry Spokes

Like the spokes on a wheel, two prominent star patterns circle around the North Star night after night. W-shaped Cassiopeia, the queen, is quite low in the northern sky as night falls right now, while the Big Dipper is high in the north.


©2015 The University of Texas McDonald Observatory