Sky & Telescope - May 2024 - 46

MAY 2024 OBSERVING
Sun, Moon & Planets by Gary Seronik
To find out what's
visible in the sky from
your location, go to
skyandtelescope.org.
A Gathering of Dawn Planets
For planetary observers, most of the action this month takes place in the morning sky.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 1
As the month begins, look toward the
west as twilight starts to fade for a
remarkable and fleeting collection of
luminaries. In a 65°-wide by 60°-high
swath of sky, we can count 17 stars of
second magnitude or brighter - including
Sirius, which gleams at magnitude
-1.5 and holds down the eastern edge of
the group. But brightest of all is Jupiter,
at magnitude -2.0, hugging the westnorthwestern
horizon.
The giant planet is drifting toward
its conjunction with the Sun on the
18th and will soon be lost in its glare.
Indeed, Jupiter becomes noticeably more
difficult to glimpse with each passing
night, so enjoy it while you can. The
planet will return at dawn around June
7th. However, if you want decent views
in your telescope you'll have to be a bit
more patient and wait until early July.
As for Jupiter's stellar companions,
take note of the fact that they all belong
to autumn and winter constellations,
and so their time in the evening sky
is also winding down. That said, the
most northerly of the bunch, Capella,
in Auriga, is almost circumpolar from
mid-northern latitudes. Even at the end
of June you'll still be able to glimpse it
at dusk and then see it again at dawn as
it rises in the north-northeast. In other
words, there's not a night in the year
in which you can't see Capella at least
some of the time.
FRIDAY, MAY 3
Speaking of hugging the horizon . . .
at dawn today there's a " four for the
price of one " array that rivals (or even
surpasses) the dusk gathering described
above. From right to left we have the
Moon, Saturn, Mars, and Mercury. All
three planets shine at roughly the same
brightness. Saturn glows at magnitude
1.2, while Mars is just a wee bit brighter
at magnitude 1.1. Far more noticeable
is the color contrast between these two,
with Mars displaying a peachy-orange
hue and Saturn a pale, honey yellow.
Brightest of all is Mercury, which is
a +0.8-magnitude dot just above the
eastern horizon. On this particular
morning, it achieves an altitude of only
These scenes are drawn for near the middle of North America (latitude 40° north, longitude 90° west). European observers should move each
Moon symbol a quarter of the way toward the one for the previous date; in the Far East, move the Moon halfway. The blue 10° scale bar is about the
width of your fist at arm's length. For clarity, the Moon is shown three times its actual apparent size.
Dusk, May 3
30 minutes after sunset
Dawn, May 3 - 6
30 minutes before sunrise
PEGASUS
Great
Square
10°
TAURUS
Saturn
Aldebaran
Pleiades
Moon
May 6
Jupiter
Looking West-Northwest
46
MAY 2024 * SKY & TELESCOPE
Mercury
Moon
May 5
PISCES
Mars
Moon
May 4
Moon
May 3
AQUARIUS
Looking East-Southeast
http://www.skyandtelescope.org

Sky & Telescope - May 2024

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Sky & Telescope - May 2024

Contents
Sky & Telescope - May 2024 - Cover1
Sky & Telescope - May 2024 - Cover2
Sky & Telescope - May 2024 - 1
Sky & Telescope - May 2024 - Contents
Sky & Telescope - May 2024 - 3
Sky & Telescope - May 2024 - 4
Sky & Telescope - May 2024 - 5
Sky & Telescope - May 2024 - 6
Sky & Telescope - May 2024 - 7
Sky & Telescope - May 2024 - 8
Sky & Telescope - May 2024 - 9
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Sky & Telescope - May 2024 - 11
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Sky & Telescope - May 2024 - Cover4
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