Wildlife & Wild Places

6 Sky Events This Week: Cosmic Scorpion, Planetary Triangle

 

Venus, Mercury, and Jupiter, will seem to huddle together this week. Composite image courtesy NASA

Sky-watchers this week get a chance to go eye to eye with a cosmic scorpion and witness a magnificent meeting of three neighboring worlds in the evening skies. (Take a solar system quiz.)

Red Antares Rising. By nightfall starting Monday, May 20, look for bright orange star Antares rising into the southeastern sky. Representing the eye of the summertime constellation Scorpius, the scorpion, Antares is a super red giant star 600 light-years from Earth and is the 16th brightest star in the entire sky. It’s also a whopping 900 times the diameter of our sun—so big that if Antares were to replace our sun at the center of our solar system, its outer atmosphere would almost reach out to Jupiter’s orbit.

Moon and Spica. Look towards the south on Tuesday, May 21, for waxing gibbous moon parked to the right of Virgo constellation’s brightest star. Located some 263 light-years from Earth, brilliant blue-white Spica is the fifth brightest star in the entire heavens and is a blue giant that is about 14 times the mass of our own sun. (Video: Moon 101.)

Saturn Pairs with Moon. By Wednesday night , May 22, the moon will have jumped to the lower right of Saturn. While the ringed planet does not look too different from Spica, this is an illusion, since Saturn is many orders of magnitude closer—a gas giant planet only 1.34 billion kilometers from Earth.

Planetary Trio Meeting. Beginning at dusk on Friday, May 24, the main sky show of the month begins! Look toward the low western sky a half hour after sunset for the planetary trio of Jupiter, Venus, and Mercury forming a cosmic trio. The three worlds will be within 5 degrees of each other—equal to the width of three middle fingers held at arm’s length—for the next five days. Mercury and Venus will be at their tightest—and most striking—separation this evening, at less than 1.5 degrees, or three lunar disks, apart. (See a picture of a 2012 Venus-Jupiter conjunction.)

Moon Joins Antares.  Having trouble hunting down the eye of the celestial arachnoid? A couple hours after sunset tonight, May 25, the waning gibbous moon rises in the southeast to the far left of Antares. There’s is an extremely shallow lunar eclipse at 12:10 am ET—but will unfortunately remain undetectable as only 4 percent of the moon’s disk just skims by the outer shadow cone of Earth.

Planetary trio forms a near equilateral traingle int he low western horizon.  Credit: Starry Night Software/A.Fazekas
A planetary trio forms a near equilateral triangle in the low western horizon. Image by Starry Night Software/A.Fazekas

Tight Planet Triangle. Don’t miss this cosmic gathering in the evening sky! With a clear line of sight low to the western horizon on Sunday, May 26, Venus, Jupiter, and Mercury reach their tightest huddle in the sky, forming a nearly equilateral triangle. All three worlds are within 2 degrees of each other—making for a pretty photo op and amazing views with binoculars and low power backyard telescopes. (Learn more about the universe.)

Tell us—what amazing 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.
  • Sudhindra Kanago

    great!

  • Sudhindra Kanago

    great!

  • alicia

    Hello, can these phenomenons be seen from Australia or are they a northern hemisphere occurrence?

    Thanks

  • alicia

    Hello, can these phenomenons be seen from Australia or are they a northern hemisphere occurrence?

    Thanks

  • HARMAN SINGH

    I AM WRITEING 1 OR 2 POINT.

    1. YOU CAN SHOW THIS NEWS IN NEWS PAPER OR IN NEWS.

    2. YOU CAN SPEAK THIS IN RADIO.

    THANK YOU.

    HARMAN SINGH.

  • HARMAN SINGH

    I AM WRITEING 1 OR 2 POINT.

    1. YOU CAN SHOW THIS NEWS IN NEWS PAPER OR IN NEWS.

    2. YOU CAN SPEAK THIS IN RADIO.

    THANK YOU.

    HARMAN SINGH.

  • M Padmanabha Kamath

    What about MARS, which is also expected to join Jupiter, Venus, Mercury and close to SUN in the evening sunset time ?

  • M Padmanabha Kamath

    What about MARS, which is also expected to join Jupiter, Venus, Mercury and close to SUN in the evening sunset time ?

  • Ketan

    Wow! Might miss Sunday as I may be travelling. But will see if I can catch up on any of these views. Will it be visible once dark?

  • Ketan

    Wow! Might miss Sunday as I may be travelling. But will see if I can catch up on any of these views. Will it be visible once dark?

  • tyrone

    This is awesome!! But will it be seen from South Africa!! If not what other events can we expect to see!!… Thanks 🙂

  • tyrone

    This is awesome!! But will it be seen from South Africa!! If not what other events can we expect to see!!… Thanks 🙂

  • GABRIELA ROMERO

    THE EVENT OF MAY 26, AT WHAT TIME IS??? TNKS.

  • GABRIELA ROMERO

    THE EVENT OF MAY 26, AT WHAT TIME IS??? TNKS.

  • Suraj Singh

    I will look at the skies,indeed.

    Thank you 🙂

  • Suraj Singh

    I will look at the skies,indeed.

    Thank you 🙂

  • kmkznkmk

    Thanks. what happening for this condition ?:

  • kmkznkmk

    Thanks. what happening for this condition ?:

  • Nick Gram

    Right now i really hate the fact that i do not yet have a nice sized telescope to watch it with !

  • Nick Gram

    Right now i really hate the fact that i do not yet have a nice sized telescope to watch it with !

  • teatro al aire libre del “parque de las palapas”

    por favor en español, muchos de mis seguidores son niños y no saben ingles.
    gracias

  • teatro al aire libre del “parque de las palapas”

    por favor en español, muchos de mis seguidores son niños y no saben ingles.
    gracias

  • Pablo

    Antares- Scorpio..wonderful every year at the same place!.

  • Pablo

    Antares- Scorpio..wonderful every year at the same place!.

  • mark

    @HARMAN SINGH ty for that gem.

  • mark

    @HARMAN SINGH ty for that gem.

  • Haerdsheet

    People be wracked. Dems some nice stars up there

  • Haerdsheet

    People be wracked. Dems some nice stars up there

  • Asim Qadri

    Good Info .. thanks .. just posted the link on Page of our
    Karachi Amateur Astronomers Society,
    friends you are welcome to visit us at

    https://www.facebook.com/KarachiAstronomy?fref=ts

  • Asim Qadri

    Good Info .. thanks .. just posted the link on Page of our
    Karachi Amateur Astronomers Society,
    friends you are welcome to visit us at

    https://www.facebook.com/KarachiAstronomy?fref=ts

  • Ashwin Juneja

    Hello, can these phenomenons be seen from India or are they a northern hemisphere occurrence?

    Thanks

  • PATRICKJUMA

    i love planet

  • PATRICKJUMA

    i love planet

  • Judy Neal

    Will I be able to see any of these phenomena, and if so what would the timing be?

  • Judy Neal

    Will I be able to see any of these phenomena, and if so what would the timing be?

  • Jerico S Maniczic Sr

    This’s God wonderful creation, for the whole mankind to appreciated. He’s in control and his present is more visible.

  • Jerico S Maniczic Sr

    This’s God wonderful creation, for the whole mankind to appreciated. He’s in control and his present is more visible.

  • kaddesha serano

    this was so beautiful, this after noon i take my time and watch the beautiful rainbow around the sun…. I hope i can see it again soon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • kaddesha serano

    this was so beautiful, this after noon i take my time and watch the beautiful rainbow around the sun…. I hope i can see it again soon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Mitali Pradhan

    I missed it on 26 may but I saw planetary trio today… It was amazing…

  • Mitali Pradhan

    I missed it on 26 may but I saw planetary trio today… It was amazing…

  • Mikyle

    What planets can I see from Cape Town in September 2013 ?

  • Mikyle

    What planets can I see from Cape Town in September 2013 ?

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