Things to See in the May Sky with Your Best Orion Telescope!

by telescope review guide

What can you see this month? A lot! So get out your best telescope or best binoculars and get to viewing!

May Sky on YouTube

Jupiter becomes more easily visible this month as its elevation in the pre-dawn sky is getting higher – about 23 degrees above the horizon by month’s end.   During May its separation from the Sun increases from 77 degrees to 101 degrees, and its magnitude slowly increases from -2.3 to -2.5.   It will lie just below the the last quarter Moon on the 17th in the pre-dawn sky.

Mars still remains low in the pre-dawn sky this month, but as it rises increasingly earlier than the Sun as the month progresses will become easier to spot.   It has a magnitude of +1.2.   By the end of the month, the angular separation from the Sun has increased to 40 degrees. We will have to wait a month or so until it will be seen easily in the pre-dawn sky.

Venus passed betwen the Earth and Sun in March so is now visible in the pre-dawn sky.   It will only lie 12 degrees above the horizon as the Sun rises on the first of May, so will be easier to spot later in the month.   It is at magnitude -4.4 at mid month, up and to the right of Mars.   In the middle of May, a small telescope will show a crescent phase equivalent to just before a first quarter Moon.   An interesting fact about its brightness is that it stays pretty constant at about -4.4 for most of the time that it is visible even though the apparent phase changes greatly.   When the phase is thin, Venus is nearer to us and the effective reflecting area of Venus as seen from Earth remains pretty constant.

Saturn is now high in the southern sky after nightfall in the constellation of Leo.  It lies well below the body of Leo.   It starts the month at saturn_hubble_smallmagnitude +0.8 with an angular size of ~18.8 arc seconds and these fall to +0.9 and 18.1 as the month progresses.  Saturn is significantly less bright this year than it sometimes is: the rings are very close to edge on (as shown in the Hubble image of Saturn) and thus there is less apparent reflecting area.   During May they are at an angle of ~4 degrees from the line of sight.   The rings will be seen (or rather – not seen) edge-on later this year and it will not be until 2016 that they will be at their widest again.  A small telescope will easily show its largest moon, Titan, and show some bands around the surface.

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