The Sky: May 12-19

Special to, May 13, 2023


May is the month when the Milky Way is altogether missing from the evening sky, for those of us living in the latitudes of the continental United States. That’s because the Milky Way now lies all the way around the horizon in a circle, and the North Galactic Pole (in Coma Berenices) is overhead.

Venus and Mars in Gemini at dusk, May 15, 2023. Venus, currently stealing the show below them, tonight shines next to 3rd-magnitude Epsilon Geminorum.

About 30 minutes before sunrise Wednesday morning the 17th, use binoculars to look for Jupiter very low in the east with the extremely thin crescent Moon very close by to its right or upper right. The Moon’s position with respect to Jupiter will depend on where you are.

What is the oldest thing you have ever seen? For everyone in the world it’s at least the Sun and other objects of the solar system, age 4.6 billion years. Next is Arcturus, which most people have surely seen whether they know it or not, since it’s one of the brightest stars in the sky. There it is, very high toward the southeast or south these evenings.

Bright Vega is now nicely up in the east-northeast after dark. Look for its faint little constellation Lyra, the Lyre, hanging down from it with its bottom canted to the right. New Moon (exact at 11:53 a.m. EDT) on May 19.

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