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  • May 21, 2019

Planets visible to the naked eye - May 20, 2019

  • Planétarium Rio Tinto Alcan
Photo: Sophie Desrosiers
Planets visible to the naked eye

From May 20 to June 3, 2019

Mercury passes behind the sun (superior conjunction) on May 21 and gradually reappears in the evening sky by the end of the month. With binoculars, scan the west-northwest horizon 30 minutes after sunset, looking for a tiny point of light shining through the colours of twilight. On the evening of June 4, the thin crescent moon hangs 5 ½ degrees to the left of Mercury.

Venus, the dazzling Morning Star, appears very low in the east-northeast 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 15 degrees high in the west-northwest, and sets in the northwest around 11:00 p.m. Its orange tint helps distinguish it from the many stars of similar brightness in that area of the sky. Also, notice how Mars moves rapidly with respect to the background stars and constellations from one night to the next. On the evening of June 5, the waxing crescent moon hangs 5 ½ degrees to the upper left of the Red Planet.

Jupiter shines brightly in the south in the middle of the night and at dawn. The Giant Planet rises in the southeast around 10:00 p.m. and gradually climbs in the sky, culminating around 2:00 a.m. some 22 degrees above the southern horizon, before it vanishes in the southwest when the dawn sky becomes too bright.The waning gibbous Moon will be near Jupiter during the night of 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 midnight and culminates at dawn 23 degrees high in the south. The waning gibbous Moon will be near Saturnon the mornings of May 22 and 23.

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