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  • May 4, 2020

Planets visible to the naked eye - May 4, 2020

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

From May 4 to 18, 2020

Mercury is presently too close to the Sun and is not visible from our northern latitudes. The tiny planet passes behind the Sun (superior conjunction) on May 4, and will reappear in the evening sky in mid-May. After the 15th, look for a tiny dot of light very low on the west-northwest horizon, 30 minutes after sunset: On May 21 and 22, Venus and Mercury are less than 1 ½ degrees apart. On May 24, the thin crescent moon hangs 6 degrees to the upper left of Mercury.

Venus is the dazzling Evening Star that shines in the west-northwest from sundown until it disappears below the horizon after 10:30 p.m. After sunset, Venus appears lower and lower with each passing day as the separation between the planet and the sun decreases. During the evenings of May 21 and 22, Venus and Mercury appear less than 1 ½ degrees apart.

Mars emerges above the east-southeast horizon after 3:00 a.m. At dawn, the Red Planet stands about 20 degrees high in the southeast. Mars moves rapidly with respect to the background stars: The Red Planet is now moving away from Saturn and Jupiter (both to its right). Watch as the gap between them increases from day to day: On May 15, at the end of the night and at dawn, the waning crescent Moon hangs 3 degrees to the below Mars.

Jupiter is visible low in the southeast after 2:00 a.m. At dawn, the bright Giant Planet shines about 23 degrees above the south-southeast horizon. Note the presence of Saturn (a few degrees to its lower left) and Mars (farther to the left of Saturn). On the morning of May 12, the waning gibbous Moon lies 3 degrees to the lower right of Jupiter and completes a nice triangle with Saturn a bit farther to the left.

Saturn is visible very low in the southeast after 2:00 a.m., a few degrees to the lower left of bright Jupiter. At dawn, Saturn stands about 23 degrees in the south-southeast. Note the presence of Mars to its lower left, and watch as the gap between them grows from day to day. On the morning of May 13, the waning gibbous Moon appears 7 degrees to the lower left of Saturn and draws a long, thin triangle with Jupiter to the upper right.

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