Venus is at its best and brightest for all of 2023 in May this year. It will remain visible in all its unmistakable brilliance until quite late —— well after sunset in our western sky. Venus will appear to move from the bottom to the top of the tall constellation Gemini.
Mars continues as an evening object though it is much dimmer than Venus. It appears high among Gemini’s stars in early May, but moves east (left), into Cancer by mid-month. On May 24th it will be close to the Beehive Cluster, a nice open cluster of stars in Cancer, also known as M44. A crescent Moon sits just above the cluster that night . This will be a great gathering to look at with binoculars in order to bring the cluster’s stars to clear view, and note Venus and the Moon surrounding the cluster. Look west; 90 minutes after sunrise.
Some other planets appear in the morning eastern skies before dawn all month. Highest and easiest to see will be Saturn. Saturn rises about 3:30 am on May 1st and by 1:30 am on May 31st. The best time to look for it is one hour before dawn when it has reached sufficient altitude above the horizon. The rings, now titles 8 degrees to our line of sight will give a good view through a telescope.
Jupiter will be high enough to be seen one hour before sunrise. It will be noticeably brighter than Saturn. It will become more prominent and higher in the eastern sky next month and on through the summer. Mercury may be spotted on the morning of May 23rd, when it appears just left of Jupiter. Jupiter, the brighter, will act as a nice guide to finding the inner-most planet of our solar system.
Unfortunately a meteor shower that is associated with famous Halley’s Comet debris is deeply affected by the May 5th Full Moon. So this shower, the Eta Aquariads, is reduced to a dribble this year.
Better luck next year to catch this normally productive meteor shower!
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