Night Sky for May 2020

May 2020 Guide to the Bright Planets

By Bob Berman
May 21, 2020
Sky Watch

Here’s the May 2020 guide to the night sky! During this month, all 5 bright planets are visible—two visible in the evening and three in the pre-dawn darkness. See Bob Berman’s viewing tips to enjoy the night wonders!

Sky Watch May 2020

by Bob Berman, as featured in The Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Evening Planets

Venus and Mercury are the two nighttime “stars” and meet for a conjuntion, too!

Venus

Venus is a dazzlingly gorgeous evening star in the northwest on the 1st, but each night she steadily sinks lower into the dusk until she is gone by month’s end.  

Mercury

Mercury, standing 12 degrees high in fading twilight 40 minutes after sunset in the second half of the month, offers a fine evening apparition.

Venus and Mercury Conjunction (May 21)

Look for Venus and Mercury to make their closest approach to one another on Thursday May 21 after sunset.

As evening darkens, look west, just 10 degrees up from the horizon! Use super-bright Venus to find Mercury, only 1 degree below Venus! (Think of the width of your little finger held at arm’s length.)

Mercury’s brightness may pale compared to Venus’s but the innermost planet is as bright as a 1st-magnitude star. You may see Mercury with the naked eye about 45 minutes to one hour after sunset. Otherwise, use binoculars to identify Venus and you’ll see Mercury in the same field-of-view.

May 22 brings a New Moon so the skies will be dark as our only satellite will cross the sky during the day while the Sun is shining. 

Venus and Mercury create a striking dinnertime triangle with the very thin crescent Moon on the 23rd. After their conjunction, Mercury will climb upward day by day while Venus will descend downward. As long as you can catch Venus after sunset, seek for Mercury above Venus.

mercury-venus.jpg
Credit: E. Sigel/Stellarium

Morning Planets

The three morning planets this month are Jupiter, Saturn and Mars – which are easy to spot from the waning Moon from May 12 to 14, 2020.

On May 12, at about 4.00 a.m., look for the Moon in the sky, then find both Jupiter and Saturn just above the Moon.  Jupiter is by far the brightest of the two. Nearby is the ringed planet Saturn.

Watch the Moon move towards Mars on the 13th, ending below and slightly to the right of steadily brightening Mars on the 14th. 

may_night_sky_full_width.jpg

See the Almanac’s Bright Planets Calculator to find out when planets rises and sets from your backyard. Just type in your zip code!

You can also check the Almanac’s Moonrise and Moonset calculator.

Source: 

The 2020 Old Farmer's Almanac

2021_moon_calendar_ad.png

Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

new to sky watching. help needed

In Metro Huston every evening I spot a cluster of lights that look like a helicopter positioning lights at a South/SE spot at 137 degrees, just above tree level at approximately 40 to 60 degrees of elevation? They are multicolored blinking red/green/yellow consistently. Want to know what they are …. any hints or suggestions?