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.
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In the Sky This Month
May 23: Fuzzy Foot
The twins of Gemini are dropping feet-first toward the western horizon as night falls. One of those feet is marked by a small, faint smudge of light: the star cluster M35. It is about 2,500 light-years away and contains about 150 stars.
May 24: New Moon
The Moon will be “new” tomorrow as it passes between Earth and Sun, so it will be hidden in the Sun's glare. And even if the Sun wasn’t in the way, there wouldn’t be much to see. It’s night on the lunar hemisphere that faces our way, so the Moon is dark.
May 25: Lynx
The faint constellation Lynx is in the west and northwest at nightfall. It’s above Pollux and Castor, the twins of Gemini, which are almost due west, and brighter Capella, the leading light of Auriga, the charioteer, to their lower right.
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.