5 Sky Events This Week: Return of Venus, Solar Eclipse

The crescent moon will be paying a visit with Jupiter and Venus this week. Illustration via Starry Night Software/Andrew Fazekas


Here at National Geographic, we’ve discovered that readers love their space. So today we’re launching what we hope will be a far-out new feature: What to look for this week in the night sky. The second week in May will bring a mixed cosmic bag of shooting stars, an eclipse, and some worlds playing tag with each other.

Eta Aquarid Meteors. Starting at nightfall on Monday, May 6, straggler meteors from the Eta Aquarid shower should still be visible zipping through overhead skies across the globe. While rates of shooting stars will be significantly less than on peak night, May 5, it should be possible to see at least a half dozen per hour from dark skies throughout the first half of the week. (Also see: “Look Up for Halley’s Comet Shower This Weekend.”)

Venus Returns to Evening Skies. Starting on Tuesday, look for Venus—the second innermost planet—to start emerging from the evening twilight very low in the west-northwest. While it’s a challenge to hunt down within the sunset’s glare, Venus’ visibility will improve as it rises higher in the evening sky in following weeks.

Annular Solar Eclipse. On Thursday to Friday, the moon will cast its shadow on the Earth, making the sun appear as a ring of fire in the first solar eclipse of 2013. Visibility of the full eclipse can be seen from Queensland, Australia, on May 9 at 22:37 Universal Time and Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands at 23:00 UT. In Hawaii, a partial eclipse can be seen with just less than half the sun’s disc covered on May 10 at 1:50 UT. Here is a list of cities and times along the path of the eclipse. (See solar eclipse pictures from 2012.)

Moon Joins Venus. On Friday evening the very young and thin crescent moon passes Venus in the very low west-northwest horizon.  This pairing will be a challenge to observe because it will appear very low in the sky, so it’s best to find a location that has a free line of sight down the horizon. Venus will be only less than 2 degrees away from the moon—equal to the width of a thumb at an outstretched arms length. Binoculars will make it much easier to spot the cosmic pair in the bright twilight glare. (See Venus pictures.)

Moon Joins Jupiter. On Saturday and Sunday evening, watch the western sky at dusk for the waxing crescent moon to glide past Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system. On Saturday the moon will be to the lower right of the gas giant. By Sunday the moon will have jumped to the upper left of the bright, star-like Jupiter. The two worlds will appear to be separated by about 6 degrees—a little more than the width of a fist held at an outstretched arm’s length.

Tell us—what cool sky phenomena have you seen lately?

Andrew Fazekas, aka The Night Sky Guy, is a science writer, broadcaster, and lecturer who loves to share his passion for the wonders of the universe through all media. He is a regular contributor to National Geographic News and is the national cosmic correspondent for Canada’s Weather Network TV channel, space columnist for CBC Radio network, and a consultant for the Canadian Space Agency. As a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Andrew has been observing the heavens from Montreal for over a quarter century and has never met a clear night sky he didn’t like.
  • Bob Jones

    How can the annular eclipse be visible in Queensland and Papua New Guinea on different days, given that the two places are so close to each other?

    • Indeed there was an error in the dates – thanks for catching that Bob. We have corrected it now.

  • Correction:There was an error on the date of the solar eclipse visibility in the original post which has been corrected. We have also added a link to a list of cities with eclipse times.

  • Donna

    This is a wonderful idea! Please keep this up!

  • Patrice

    I love the new “Star Struck” feature! I’m always wondering what it is I’m looking at in the night sky! Great idea! Keep up the good work!

  • Kent Dylan

    It would be really great if events like this could include a timezone chart for various parts of the world, I was quite disappointed to miss the recent lunar eclipse, due to the fact that the available times were very difficult to determine — as the alternative sources available were so unreliable — I feel that National Geographic could do a much better job than the other sites that offer this type of information.

  • Amanda

    You guys should create an email list for your space event updates.

  • Isobel Anderson

    About 2 months ago I saw a ring around the sun. I have seen sundogs before but this was a complete circle. Fascinating and beautiful. Love your new feature and that it is shared with the whole world.

  • Bella

    The star Struck information is a great idea.
    Only problem the times etc list does not include England.
    Perhaps you would be kind enough to include it for me.
    Look forward to your next updates and thank you.

  • LPKH

    Anyone know how to find out when the eclipse will be visible in Timor-Leste?

  • Vivienne O’Brien

    Would like to know what can be seen in the UK skies over the next couple of months. Many thanks.

  • Bec

    I saw a triple shooting star around 6.30pm Friday 6 may

  • Jeroen

    So your fist is three thumbs wide?

    • Keep in mind this is simply a very rough but quick way stargazers can judge the separation of objects in the sky.

  • Christina Haley

    This is a fantastic new feature! Thank you!

  • Victor Morales

    These is very interesting!! I love hearing news about whats happening in the sky.

  • dilip sengupta

    Why not publish on the same day (Monday) in Facebook for the full week (Mon to Sun) ? Seeing late is ‘not seen’.

  • dilip sengupta

    Why not publish on the same day (Monday) in Facebook for the whole week (Mon – Sun) ?

  • diana

    This is a great site. I hope to see it every week. Thanks National Geographic.

  • pia

    Acc wt wld d tym fr halleys comet in India

  • velma

    i love learning about the sky

  • sandrine stevens

    I love the night sky!!! The up date on the metoers is a little late it would have been a treat to see the shower. On what date will I see the solar eclipse in jamaica?

  • eve

    thanks for doing all this, I love to watch the sky but know not all the technical jargon. thank you for making it all understandable…a thumbs width makes sense…and the exact where, and maybes…very enjoyable..

  • John Mark Azares

    wow, I’ll wait for that.

  • Marie Alvarez

    I love to see and know that many peoples are looking up the sky’s. there is always something in the skies you can check my pic and see what I been bless to see and show the rest of the world what God’s. world or creation it’s up in the sky’s check out every day like I do. thank you guy’s.. god bless you all.

  • Anke izko

    Love the nights out here….it’s time again and the ISS is making its rounds this week very regularly each evening.

  • Joanne Cloutier

    Congratulations on a great feature! Love to know what I am looking at every week.

  • sukumar

    Great info , now i have good reason to check my email,thumbs up

  • Helene Trottier-Lebel

    Thanks for sharing. This will make my Moon meditation session even more interesting tonight.

  • Chris Beezely

    Agreed, keep it up!

  • Zohier

    I’ve took pictures today ,, how can I share them ?

  • issac

    Send me pictures those able am eager to see them

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