Planets Dancing in the Twilight
Animation of the planetary trio at the end of May. Images courtesy Stellarium. Get ready to watch the west at the end of this month for a fantastic celestial show! This month you will see Venus, Jupiter, and Mercury appear above the horizon as a bright trio.
At the beginning of May you will not be able to see Mercury or Venus. Jupiter still reigns fairly high above the horizon after sunset. However, as the end of the month approaches you will see Venus pop up, Jupiter fall down, and Mercury, being true to its namesake, speeding up out of the West and handily bypassing Venus.
This is a wonderful sight to behold, and one in which you won't need anything but your own eyes. Of course, you can use binoculars or a telescope to catch a few details. The moons of Jupiter may look to almost touch Venus as they close in on each other; the disc of Mercury will start to changes its phase from a tiny full disc to a little more than two thirds full. Venus will remain almost fully lit during the trio, but keep your eyes peeled as both it and Mercury rise higher in June; they are the only two planets we see from Earth that have phases that change like our Moon.
The beauty doesn't end after these planets set in the twilight. Saturn is rising up early in the east, and many other gorgeous objects are always up there waiting for your eyes to spy on their secrets. You can find star parties held by astronomy clubs in your area by using the apps below or use the website!
Join our vibrant stargazing community! We invite you to join the NASA Night Sky Network stargazing community on Facebook and Twitter for sky charts, beautiful images, and lively conversation.
Distant Suns, your personal guide to the cosmos, lists Night Sky Network astronomy club star parties, safe solar gazing events, and lectures in the main navigation bar. Distant Suns is available on iPhone, iPad, Kindle, and NOOK.
SkySafari, a powerful planetarium that fits in your pocket, lists Night Sky Network astronomy club star parties, safe solar gazing events, and lectures in the help menu. SkySafari is available for Android and the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.
Clear skies and happy stargazing!
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