Every week, SkyNews publishes a list of key events in the Canadian sky in This Week’s Sky. This series gives you all the latest news in Solar System movements, including where the planets are in our sky and Moon phases. From eclipses to meteor showers, This Week’s Sky keeps you updated on the best in upcoming astronomical highlights.
Tuesday, May 24 – Crescent Moon meets Mars (pre-dawn)
Two days after the Moon’s visit with Saturn, its waning crescent will hop east to shine a generous palm’s width to the lower right (or 7 degrees to the celestial southwest) of Mars. With brighter Jupiter and Venus gleaming to their left (celestial east), the grouping will be a pretty sight once they clear the treetops after about 4 am local time. The scene will also make a terrific photo opportunity when composed with some interesting scenery. For observers in western North America, the Moon will be somewhat closer below Mars.
Wednesday, May 25 – Crescent Moon near Jupiter and Mars (pre-dawn)
In the southeastern sky on Wednesday morning, May 25 during the hours before dawn, the waning crescent Moon will appear a palm’s width to the lower left (or 5 degrees to the celestial southeast) of bright Jupiter and fainter reddish Mars. Venus will shine brilliantly to the lower left of the trio, making yet another fine photo opportunity.
Friday, May 27 – Old Moon and Venus (before sunrise)
A pretty sight will greet early risers in the eastern sky before sunrise on Friday, May 26 when the very slim crescent of the old Moon will shine just to the lower left (celestial east) of the extremely bright planet Venus. Mars and Jupiter will accompany them, off to their upper right. Unlike the Moon, a telescope view of Venus will show a 76-per-cent illuminated disk. That’s because Venus will be farther from Earth than the Sun is, while the Moon will be closer than the Sun. (Point optics away from the eastern horizon before the Sun rises.) Hours earlier, observers in southern Madagascar, most of Southeast Asia, southeastern China, and most of Micronesia can see the Moon occult Venus in daytime around 04:00 UTC.
Sunday, May 29 – Mars passes Jupiter (pre-dawn)
In the eastern pre-dawn sky on the morning of Sunday, May 29, the faster motion of Mars will carry it past much brighter Jupiter in a very tight conjunction. Both planets will share the view in a telescope (inset, green circle) from Friday to Tuesday, with Mars approaching from the right (celestial west). At closest approach on Sunday morning, Mars will sit 0.6 degrees (about the Moon’s diameter) below Jupiter, although your telescope may flip and/or mirror-image the arrangement shown here. The optimal viewing time will be 4-5 a.m. local time.
Monday, May 30 – New Moon (at 11:30 UTC)
On Monday, May 30 at 7:30 a.m. EDT or 11:30 UTC, the Moon will officially reach its new Moon phase. At that time our natural satellite will be located in Taurus, and less than 1 degree north of the Sun. While at its new phase, the Moon is travelling between Earth and the Sun. Since sunlight can only shine on the far side of the Moon, and the Moon is in the same region of the sky as the Sun, it becomes completely hidden from view from anywhere on Earth for about a day. After the new Moon phase Earth’s celestial night-light will return to shine as a crescent in the western evening sky.
Chris Vaughan is a science writer, geophysicist, astronomer, planetary scientist and an “outreach RASCal.” He writes Astronomy Skylights, and you can follow him on Twitter at @astrogeoguy. He can also bring his Digital Starlab portable inflatable planetarium to your school or other daytime or evening event. Contact him through AstroGeo.ca to tour the Universe together.