Weekly Stargazing Tips

Provided by StarDate.org. Unless otherwise specified, viewing times are local time regardless of time zone, and are good for the entire Lower 48 states (and, generally, for Alaska and Hawaii).

May 21: Moon and Saturn

The giant planet Saturn tags along with the Moon, which is roughly at last quarter, early tomorrow. They climb into good view by about 3 a.m. Saturn looks like a bright star, directly above the Moon at first light.

May 22: Faint Giant

Hercules is in his prime at this time of year. The strongman is well up in the eastern sky at nightfall and stands high overhead in the wee hours of the morning. And as seems only proper, Hercules is a giant — only four constellations are bigger.

May 23: Moon, Mars, and Jupiter

Look for the Moon at dawn tomorrow. The bright planets Jupiter and Mars are to its left. Jupiter is by far the brighter of the two, while Mars shows a distinctly orange hue.

May 24: Beta Bootis

Bootes, the herdsman, is high in the sky at nightfall. It looks like a faint kite, with bright yellow-orange Arcturus at the tail. The top of the kite is Beta Bootis. Three decades ago, it produced one of the most powerful explosions ever seen from a “normal” star.

May 25: Two Pair

Two pairs of bright worlds highlight the dawn sky the next couple of days: the Moon and Venus, and Jupiter and Mars. Jupiter and Mars are in view by a couple of hours before sunrise, low in the east. The Moon and Venus, the Morning Star, rise a little later.

May 26: Galaxies Aplenty

Look up into a dark, starry night sky and hold out your hand at arm’s length in front of your face. Now look at the fingernail on your little finger. That tiny area is covering up millions of galaxies, and perhaps tens of millions.

May 27: Mars and Jupiter

Jupiter and Mars will huddle as close as half a degree from each other the next few mornings, which is less than the width of a pencil held at arm’s length. The brighter planet is Jupiter, with Mars close to its lower right tomorrow, and even closer on Sunday.