The western evening sky features several bright stars and planets in late May. This view, on May 22, is roughly an hour after sunset, and includes the crescent Moon. The Moon will move up and to the left on succeeding nights as the crescent grows fatter.
You are here
Moon and Companions
The crescent Moon stands at the middle of a beautiful celestial grouping this evening. That grouping includes the planets Venus and Jupiter — the second- and third-brightest objects in the night sky — and several bright stars.
Venus is to the lower right of the Moon. It’s the dazzling “evening star,” so there’s no way to miss it. In fact, it’s so bright that you might mistake it for an approaching airplane with its landing lights turned on. Keep an eye on it for a bit, though, and you’ll see that it doesn’t move — it maintains its position relative to the other astronomical objects around it.
Jupiter is about the same distant to the upper left of the Moon. It, too, is extremely bright — brighter than any true star in the night sky. That’s because Jupiter is the biggest planet in the solar system, and because it’s covered by clouds that reflect a lot of sunlight. It’s only about a tenth as bright as Venus, though, because it’s hundreds of millions of miles farther.
A few stars are part of the evening tableau as well. Procyon, the brightest star of Canis Minor, the little dog, stands below the Moon. And Pollux and Castor, the twins of Gemini, are off to the right of the Moon.
So enjoy this beautiful grouping throughout the evening. It’s especially pretty as the last of the twilight adds a bit of color to the view.
And since that’s a lot of stuff to keep track of, we’ve posted a chart on our web site.
Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2015