Sky Shows
by Maya del Mar

For months we’ve been able to look up at the night sky and spot brilliant Jupiter, with its duller sidekick, Saturn, trailing a bit below it. When they were joined in earthy Taurus a year ago, they set a 20-year Taurean pattern in motion for all of us. (See references in many past issues of Daykeeper Journal Online.) They have dominated the night sky, as they now dominate our lives.

Now Jupiter and Saturn are disappearing from sight. They are sinking below the western horizon around twilight, and May is the last month of visibility for them in 2001. By May 8, Saturn sets an hour after the sun, and Jupiter two hours. By the end of May they are both lost in the sun’s evening glow.

But wait! Mercury steps in to have a last dance with this important pair. Mercury is ordinarily difficult to see. It is close to the sun and usually caught in the sun’s aura. But during this May it has the best visibility of 2001.

On May 5 look at the low western horizon 30 minutes after sunset. Mercury sits a bit to the right of Saturn, and is a bit brighter. Brilliant Jupiter shines above them. And in between Jupiter and Saturn is reddish Aldebaran, the eye of the Taurus Bull.

Now try to watch the sky at the same time every night until after the crescent moon on May 24, and watch the Mercury-Saturn-Aldebaran-Jupiter drama unfold, with a beautiful crescent moon joining the grand finale.

By May 14 Mercury has moved up to the right of Jupiter. Perhaps you can notice its brightness change from one night to another. On May 24 the brand new crescent moon sits just to the left of Mercury, and Jupiter is to the lower right of them both. Both Mercury and Jupiter now quickly sink into the twilight.

During these evenings of observation, if you have binoculars, try to see the big Jovian moons. There are four of them, and they move quickly. Those moons are easiest to see when Jupiter is in twilight.

Red Mars has been a morning star, rising in the southeast with the constellation Scorpio in the early morning hours. It has risen earlier and earlier, and this month it begins to rise before midnight. By the end of the month, Mars rises at 10 p.m. It’s bright now, and it will continue to brighten during May.

And last but not least, Venus, jewel of the pre-dawn sky, graces us with her beauty. Look at the eastern horizon a half hour before sunrise on May 15 for a treat.

It is a rare month when we can see all five of the potentially visible planets. Take advantage of balmy May evenings to bring to life these celestial beings about which we talk so much!