May Bright Planets and Stars
Welcome the Almanac Sky Watch for May 2019! We’re here to help backyard stargazers navigate the night sky—from bright planets to constellations.
Sky Watch May 2019
by Bob Berman, as featured in The 2019 Old Farmer’s Almanac
May is a transition month.
- At nightfall on the 1st, Orion stands upright on the western horizon but vanishes by month’s end. Orion is distinctive with its famous belt, those three-stars-in-row.
- Mars rises at nightfall. It is the only planet to stay out all night all month long, though it’s fading rapidly. Mars starts this month in Taurus but zooms into Gemini by midmonth.
- Jupiter rises at night after Mars, roughly around 11 P.M. in the “13th zodiac constellation” Ophiuchus. See our Rise and Set Calculator to find out when planets rise in the sky.
- By late May, Jupiter rises around nightfall. As the Giant Planet Planet nears its opposition to the Sun (coming June 10), it’s shining at its brilliant brightest!
- Jupiter hovers near the Moon on the 20th and 21st.
- Saturn rises at about 1:00 a.m. on May 1 (in Sagittarius)—about two hours after Jupiter—and is well placed for the rest of the short night. By the month’s end, Saturn rises by around 11 p.m. daylight saving time. The Ringed Planet is very bright (as bright as a 1st-magnitude star), though not as bright as Jupiter which shines at its best.
- In the predawn, the planetary alignments have ended.
- Only Venus remains, hovering low in the eastern skies to float above the waning crescent Moon on the 2nd. It’s a lovely sight, though it may difficult the spot in the morning glare since Venus and the Moon are rising about the same time as the Sun.
- Mercury is pretty much unobservable to the naked eye, lost in the sunlight at this time of year.
See our May Sky Map for a free, printable star chart to navigate the night sky!