May 2017

At the start of May, Orion is setting not long after the sun. Taurus is right of it with red Mars right of the Hyades V rivaling orange Aldebaran. Leo is on the meridian. Jupiter is in Virgo heading toward Porrima near the meridian. Arcturus and Boötes are high in the east.

 Mars motion after sunset in May 2017

Night to night, watch Mars climb above the Hyades V as though trying to escape being pulled down with it into the sunset. The red planet doesn’t get that far above the horizon after sunset this month though. At the end of May, you can see Gemini nicely places for easy viewing to the west.


Jupiter keeps getting closer to Porrima as May progresses.

 Jupiter in Virgo May 2017

At the month’s start, Saturn rises in late evening at the bottom of Ophiuchus. But you’ll probably find it easier to recognize Sagittarius southwest of it. The ringed planet rises shortly after sunset by the end of May.

 Saturn near Sagittarius May 2017

Venus is a nice morning object all month. The crescent moon passes near it on the 22nd. It won’t be easy to spot Mercury from the northern hemisphere this month. But south of the equator, views are great for seeing it enter Pisces near where the fish are joined in early May. It’s close to Uranus around the 12th. The greatest elongation of Mercury this month is best seen from 12° south. The planet is 25.8° west of the sun. It leaves the junction in Pisces by the end of the month where Uranus has remained almost in the same spot but Venus has joined it.

 Venus, Mercury, and Venus motion in the morning sky in May 2017

Mercury is at aphelion on the 6th. It is 0.467 astronomical units from the sun.


The moon occults Regulus twice in May. On the 4th, viewers from Australia and New Zealand can see the moon hide the star. And on the 31st, an occultation of the same star is visible from southern Africa and Madagascar.

The moon occults Regulus on May 4, 2017 - visibility map

The moon occults Regulus May 31, 2017 - visibility map 

Northward equinox on Mars is on the 5th.


Moon phases this month: first quarter on the 3rd, full moon on the 10th, last quarter on the 19th, and new moon on the 25th.


The moon is on the equator going south on the 7th, at southern lunistice on the 14th, crossing the equator going north on the 21st, and at northern lunistice on the 27th. Apogee is on the 12th and perigee on the 26th.

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