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6 Sky Events This Week: Cosmic Scorpion, Planetary Triangle

 

venus, jupiter, and mercury picture
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?

Comments

  1. Mikyle
    Cape Town , South Africa
    September 18, 2013, 2:39 pm

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

  2. Mitali Pradhan
    Mumbai, INDIA
    May 27, 2013, 1:32 pm

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

  3. kaddesha serano
    Belize City,Belize
    May 24, 2013, 7:50 pm

    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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Jerico S Maniczic Sr
    Philippines
    May 23, 2013, 10:42 am

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

  5. Judy Neal
    SW Turkey
    May 23, 2013, 10:36 am

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

  6. PATRICKJUMA
    sisenye
    May 22, 2013, 5:00 pm

    i love planet

  7. Ashwin Juneja
    Jalandhar
    May 22, 2013, 7:27 am

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

    Thanks

  8. Asim Qadri
    Karachi, Pakistan
    May 22, 2013, 6:52 am

    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

  9. Haerdsheet
    UK
    May 21, 2013, 10:50 pm

    People be wracked. Dems some nice stars up there

  10. mark
    USA
    May 21, 2013, 10:38 pm

    @HARMAN SINGH ty for that gem.

  11. Pablo
    Lima- Peru
    May 21, 2013, 10:14 pm

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

  12. teatro al aire libre del "parque de las palapas"
    cancún, quintana roo, meéxico
    May 21, 2013, 8:45 pm

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

  13. Nick Gram
    Copenhagen
    May 21, 2013, 8:44 pm

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

  14. kmkznkmk
    myanmar
    May 21, 2013, 8:14 pm

    Thanks. what happening for this condition ?:

  15. Suraj Singh
    South Africa, Johannesburg
    May 21, 2013, 8:05 pm

    I will look at the skies,indeed.

    Thank you :)

  16. GABRIELA ROMERO
    MEXICO,DF
    May 21, 2013, 7:24 pm

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

  17. tyrone
    south africa
    May 21, 2013, 2:49 pm

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

  18. Ketan
    Mumbai
    May 21, 2013, 12:53 am

    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?

  19. M Padmanabha Kamath
    PUNE, INDIA
    May 20, 2013, 11:39 pm

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

  20. HARMAN SINGH
    SONIPAT,HARYANA
    May 20, 2013, 11:37 pm

    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.

  21. alicia
    australia
    May 20, 2013, 10:47 pm

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

    Thanks

  22. Sudhindra Kanago
    May 20, 2013, 1:44 pm

    great!