The Moon begins the week in its waning
gibbous phase as it approaches third
quarter the night of Tuesday, May 27, just before Moonrise in
North America, technically turning the Moon to its waning crescent, which will then thin a bit
through the remainder of our period. The morning of Friday the
23rd, the Moon took up residence within the confines of Sagittarius and the Little Milk Dipper, so that by the
following morning, that of Saturday the 24th (the night of Friday
the 23rd), it will be passing just a couple degrees to the south of
Jupiter, the two making a fine sight, as Jupiter
is bright enough to remain relatively unhampered by Moonlight.
The outer planets are next up for visits. On Monday the 26th, the
Moon passes Neptune (and actually occults it, though
not for North American viewers), and then on Thursday the 29th it's
Uranus's turn. Neptune, in far
northeastern Capricornus, begins
retrograde (westerly) motion on Monday the 26th. Uranus is a
constellation over, still stuck in northeastern Aquarius just south of the border with
Pisces below the "Circlet."
So far as the naked eye is concerned, with Mercury a much more
difficult sight in western twilight, the planetary sky is made of
the outer three, in order from west to east, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter. Look west for Mars in the
evening up from a line that extends to the left through Gemini's Castor and Pollux. Pay special attention to
Mars the nights of Friday the 23rd and Saturday the 24th, when the
red planet passes across Cancer's
Beehive Cluster, which lies
just north of the ecliptic.
Look early, as Mars now sets just before midnight local time (1 AM Daylight), a
bit over two hours after the end of twilight, and use binoculars.
Looking higher in the west you can then also admire Saturn in its
own environment just to the east of Leo's Regulus, the
ringed planet not setting just AFTER midnighti local time. Finally, it's
Jupiter's turn, the giant planet rising east of Sagittarius around
11:30 PM Daylight.
Among the dim giants of the sky is Hydra, the Water Serpent, which underlies three constellations of the Zodiac. Its round head lies just to the south of
Cancer and the Beehive Cluster (and this week, Mars). It then winds well to the south of Leo and
Virgo, finally ending up just to
the west of Libra. Look for its
luminary, Alphard (Alpha Hya), a
lonely, modestly bright star to the south (and a bit west) of Leo