5 Sky Events This Week: Three-Planet Huddle, Lunar Wall

As the sun sets this week and the stars come out to play, the moon makes for a convenient guidepost in tracking down some cosmic showpieces. Check out our five sky events not to miss.

Moon Joins Regulus. Starting at dusk—about 30 minutes after your local sunset—on Friday and Saturday, check out the beautiful pairing of the moon below a bright white star high in the southern sky. Located 78 light-years away, Regulus is not only the brightest member of the constellation Leo, the lion,  but according to mythology it represents the heart of the king of the jungle.

constellation picture
The moon pairs up with the bright star Regulus in the constellation Leo this week. Illustration by A.Fazekas/Starry Night Software


Moon, Jupiter, and Venus Lineup. On Monday, May 13, look for three worlds huddling very low in the western evening sky. From highest to lowest: The crescent moon, Jupiter below right, and Venus closest to the horizon. With the goddess of love setting only an hour or so after your local sunset, timing is imperative if you want to catch both planets together. (See Venus pictures.)

If  weather allows, try watching the planetary duo day to day through the rest of this month as Venus slowly climbs higher, culminating in a close encounter with Jupiter.

Arcturus, the Red Giant. After nightfall on Wednesday, May 15, gaze up at the orange-hued Arcturus, the brightest star riding high in the southeastern sky. Lying within the kite-shaped northern constellation Bootes, the herdsman, this dying red giant star sits nearly 37 light years from Earth. As a sky-watching bonus, look about 30 degrees to its lower right for Saturn and bright star Spica—both are about 30 degrees away from Arcturus, which is equal to three fist widths held at arm’s length. (See Saturn pictures.)

It’s worth training even the smallest small backyard telescope on creamy colored Saturn, as it can bring those majestic rings into clear focus.

The Lunar Wall. The first quarter moon coming into view on Saturday night is the best time of the month to view in small telescopes an amazing lunar feature called the lunar wall. A fault line that stretches 75 miles (120 kilometers) in length and is more than 1,300 feet (400 meters deep) casts a distinct straight and dark line through your eyepiece. (Read more about lunar wonders.)

The Straight Wall, or Rupes Recta, cuts across the face of the moon and is visible in small telescopes this week. Photograph courtesy JAXA/SELENE
The Straight Wall, or Rupes Recta, cuts across the face of the moon and is visible in small telescopes this week. Photograph courtesy JAXA/SELENE


Mercury At Dusk. Just after your local sunset Sunday, try to spot the the innermost planet in the solar system, Mercury. With the tiny planet only ten degrees from the western horizon this evening, you will need to have a clear line of sight right down to your local horizon with no obstructions. Binoculars will make it much easier to spot the faint, star-like world in the bright sunset glare.

Over the course of the next couple of weeks, watch as Mercury slowly climbs higher in the sunset sky as it approaches Jupiter and Venus.


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.
  • Bardo

    Recently, while watching the sky, some friends and I saw stars “pop” (like a soundless spark of light) and disappear. We were with some astronomer friends and they didn’t know what to make of what we described.

  • Alex Woodward

    I cannot wait to see Leo the lion on May 18!!! this is so exciting!

  • Trodrigz

    I Love space pics. It tells me that we humans will some day will travel the universe.

  • zhao bing

    i like the lunar wall , that would be wonderful if i can afford a great telescope

  • Susan Cahalane

    I saw a sun halo yesterday – I’ve never seen one before! I posted a pic on my Science for Kids Blog (I’m a science teacher)-http://scienceforkidsblog.blogspot.com/2013/05/rainbow-around-sun.html

  • quentin

    Last week , I saw something really interesting, it was like “flying stars” , and when the “thing” passed above my house , it became brigther and make some kind of pulsation, like “hello we’re there!”…
    And I saw this things a copple days later with friend…they were totally amazed !

  • joseph barrett

    H402 Ontario, 10 years ago, returning from driving route, the night sky lit up brighter than the sun, I thought it must be an army flare, I kept myr speed at 100 km/h for about 5 minutes and to my left from the cab a metiorite about the size of a softball landed in.the field about 3 feet on the other side of the fence outside of H402.

  • joseph barrett

    A few years ago I was looking up at the night sky, watching what looked like a jet flying very high and relatively fast, as seen on previous nights, when it collided it was a rock hitting another rock, red cloud and sound of two rocks colliding.


    Acontecimientos espaciales de esta naturaleza son difíciles de apreciar y por tanto de gran valor para los interesados en Astronomía.

  • Hannah

    After a rainstorm, the entire Starbucks store and I saw a “quadruple rainbow”. It made us wonder if we were imagining things, but 4 rainbows could be clearly seen! Very cool.

  • Sac a principal Longchamp Vache Crocodile Moutons

    Litt implique que beaucoup de dames c habitu propres sac chief longchamp Dior sa seule possibilit d’avoir leurs petits modules en cherchant adorables et Les d mentionn ci-dessus r que la bl peut la bonne solution pour reprendre l’expression jeune des yeux. Fourre-tout brod est disponible en versions exquises et des couleurs vibrantes et aussi avoir un style singular. OK, maintenant laissez-nous discuter quelques exercices simples engine a que nous pouvons faire pour ally minimiser l’apparence de la partie sup des cuisses grandes, aussi connu sous le nom de sacoches. Vous pouvez envisager d’utiliser un sac de la r si vous l’utilisez pour une casualty informelle. quel ils sont et de circulation, il est courant pour les pi d’silver ind de poss beaucoup de d les soucis n en ce qui concerne un poignet pouch est que va garantie. Couture irr pauvres est vraiment une chief morte s hors de la fausse. Il pourrait difficile pour les entreprises dont la date de d mouvement pour cr cette stamping continuing. Le sac de Abigail est un moyen fantastique d’inclure certains pattern pour votre soir Les couleurs sont essentiellement mod pour obtenir une grande brillance et le brightness. Vous ne pouvez vraiment cr une teaching avec le sac chief parfait.

  • tonyon

    …interstellar travel constant acceleration (Sun-Deneb: 1000g)… Earth…the 2 ships that will go formation flying for mutual assisting if there are problems…indestructible structures made of Hexapentas material, awaiting in airport the arrival of passengers… Day 1: zero-speed… THE SHIPS TAKEOFF►… navigation computer places on screen the spacecraft in the center of sphere…sphericaltridimensionalspatial Heading: Deneb… Antimatter rocket engines…ON… Here we go…goooooo!…1g…10g…100g…constant acceleration cruise: 1000g (9.8 kms/sec²)… Inside the living areas (the same as going submerged in water: constant acceleration downwards…less…constant thrust, constant acceleration, from water upwards)…the gravitational transformers, perfectly synchronized with the acceleration, running: 1000g constant acceleration toward the floor ↓↓(motors)↓↓…less…999g constant acceleration toward the ceiling ↑↑(gravitational transformers)↑ = 1g constant acceleration toward the floor↓… 8.5 hours: light-speed = 1c…the fusion reactor as an artificial sun illuminating the immense Vital Support Gardens to lowering, from their comfortable apartments, cheerful passage to the pool…the electromagnetic shield anti-radiation…antigravity fields generator run forward, working: light objects away from the path of the ship…and trajectory ship away from the heavy objects…superluminal-speed > 1c… 42.5 hours: reaches hyperluminal-speed = 5c… Day 508: Half Journey…1000 light years…high hyperluminal-speed = 1435.39c… OFF engines…a few minutes of weightlessness during maneuver…the ship rotates 180º around its axis…motors ON again and… ◄STARTS TO BRAKE… Day 1017 (2.79 years): End Path party…2000 light years…zero-speed… The forever young passage of the 1st Immortal Generation (3D Bioprinting…Telomerase…modified Biological Timers…) disembarks at destination: an extra-estellar planet which came errant to orbit of Deneb giant.

  • tonyon

    Nobel Prize physiology 2017…about biological timers…

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