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  • May 6, 2019

Planets visible to the naked eye - May 6, 2019

  • Planétarium Rio Tinto Alcan
Photo: Sophie Desrosiers

From May 6 to 20, 2019

Mercury is now too close to the sun and is not observable at the moment. The tiny planet passes behind the sun (superior conjunction) on May 21 and reappears in the evening sky by the end of the month.

Venus, the dazzling Morning Star, appears very low in the east at dawn. It emerges above the horizon just 45 minutes before sunrise; 20 minutes before sunrise, it stands only about 5 degrees high. On the morning of June 1, the thin lunar crescent appears about 6 ½ degrees to the right of the Venus, very low on the east-northeast horizon.

Mars is now about as far from Earth and faint as it can appear to us. The Red Planet appears at dusk about 20 degrees high in the west-northwest, and sets in the northwest after 11:00 p.m. Its orange tint helps distinguish it from the many stars of similar brightness in that area of the sky, but don’t confuse it with bright Betelgeuse off to its lower left. Also, notice how Mars moves rapidly with respect to the background stars and constellations from one night to the next. On the evening of May 7, the waxing crescent moon hangs 3 ½ degrees to the lower left of the Red Planet.

Jupiter shines brightly in the south during the last part of the night and at dawn. The Giant Planet rises in the southeast around 11:00 p.m. and gradually climbs in the sky, culminating around 3:00 a.m. some 22 degrees above the southern horizon, before it vanishes in the south-southwest when the dawn sky becomes too bright.The waning gibbous Moon will be near Jupiter during the nights of May 19 to 20 and May 20 to 21.

Saturn is visible during the second half of the night and at dawn. The Ringed Planet emerges in the southeast around 1:00 a.m. and culminates at dawn 23 degrees high in the south. The waning gibbous Moon will be near Saturn on the mornings of May 22 and 23.

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