Some daily events in the changing sky for May 11 19.
Friday, May 11
Saturday, May 12
Sunday, May 13
Monday, May 14
Tuesday, May 15
Wednesday, May 16
Thursday, May 17
Friday, May 18
Saturday, May 19
Want to become a better amateur astronomer? Learn your way around the constellations. They're the key to locating everything fainter and deeper to hunt with binoculars or a telescope. For an easy-to-use constellation guide covering the whole evening sky, use the big monthly foldout map in each issue of Sky & Telescope, the essential magazine of astronomy. Or download our free Getting Started in Astronomy booklet (which only has bimonthly maps).
Once you get a telescope, to put it to good use you'll need a detailed, large-scale sky atlas (set of maps; the standard is Sky Atlas 2000.0) and good deep-sky guidebooks (such as Sky Atlas 2000.0 Companion or the enchanting though dated Burnham's Celestial Handbook). Read here how to use them most effectively.
More beginners' tips: "How to Start Right in Astronomy".
This Week's Planet Roundup
Mercury (about magnitude 1) is becoming visible low in the sunset, getting easier every day. About 45 minutes after the Sun goes down, look for it just over the west-northwest horizon, far to the lower right of Venus.
Look also for fainter Aldebaran left of Mercury at the beginning of the week; lower left of it later in the week. And high above Mercury is Beta Tauri.
Venus (magnitude 4.2, in Gemini) is the brilliant "Evening Star" in the west during and after twilight. This month Venus is at its peak evening height for the year.
Above Venus are Pollux and Castor. Watch them slide down toward the bright planet day by day. A telescope will show that Venus is nearing its half-lit phase, while enlarging a little week by week.
Mars (magnitude +0.9, in Pisces) is still low in the east-southeast during dawn. Though it remains pathetically tiny for now a mere 5.5 acrseconds in apparent diameter, a featureless little blob in most scopes be patient. Earth isd catching up to Mars in our faster orbit around the Sun. When we pass it this December, Mars will appear nearly 16" wide. That still won't be very large, however; Mars was 25" wide around its opposition in August 2003.
is still very busy with a lot of rift activity," Go writes. "There is a new bright white spot above the NTB [North Temperate Belt] just after [following; right of] the central meridian. Note the NTB is turning red like the NEB!" North is up. Click image for even more impressive view." credits="Christopher Go" width="" height="" align="right"]
Jupiter (magnitude 2.5, in southern Ophiuchus) rises in the east-southeast around 10 p.m. daylight saving time and dominates the south in the early-morning hours.
Antares, less bright, sparkles 9° to Jupiter's right in the evening, and to its lower right before dawn.
Saturn (magnitude +0.4, at the Leo-Cancer border) shines high in the southwest to west during evening.
Regulus, less bright at magnitude +1.4, is 11° to Saturn's left or upper left. North of Regulus is 2nd-magnitude Algieba (Gamma Leonis), a fine telescopic double star, clear yellow.
Uranus (magnitude 6, in Aquarius) is low in the east-southeast before dawn, upper right of Mars.
Neptune (magnitude 8, in Capricornus) is in the southeast just before dawn.
Pluto (magnitude 14, in northwestern Sagittarius) is not far from Jupiter in the south during the early morning hours.
All descriptions that relate to your horizon including the words up, down, right, and left are written for the world's midnorthern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude (mainly Moon positions) are for North America. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) equals Universal Time (UT, UTC, or GMT) minus 4 hours.
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