These next several evenings, look at the sky at dusk to enjoy the dance of the young waxing crescent Moon and two bright evening planets, Venus and Mercury. In today’s article, we’ll talk about how and when to observe these beautiful sky objects.
Watch for the duo of the Moon and Venus
The conjunction of the Moon and Venus will take place on May 12, 2021, at 6:03 p.m. EDT (22:03 GMT). At this moment, the celestial bodies will share the same right ascension, with our natural satellite passing 0°42′ to the south of the planet. The Moon and Venus will shine at magnitudes of -7.7 and -3.9, respectively, among the stars of the constellation Taurus.
Although the Moon and Venus are the second and the third brightest celestial bodies of our skies, the glow of evening twilight might interfere with their observation. The brilliant duo will follow the Sun beneath the horizon before nightfall. Regardless of your location worldwide, try to find an unobstructed horizon and look in the direction of sunset — thus, you’ll increase your chances of catching these beautiful celestial objects in the sky above you. If you’ve ever asked yourself, “How hot is Venus?” or “How far is Venus from the Earth?”, you can make your observations even more exciting by discovering curious facts about Venus and then checking and expanding your knowledge.
Don’t worry if you miss the Moon and Venus on May 12: try to catch the duo again on May 13, when a little wider lunar crescent is higher up at sunset and stays out longer. Moreover, its illuminated side points at Venus, and you can try to spot the earthshine — a pale glow that lights up the Moon’s dark part. This phenomenon occurs when sunlight reflects off the Earth’s surface and illuminates the unlit part of the lunar disk.
The Moon Meets Mercury
On May 13, watch for the conjunction of the Moon and Mercury. This day, at 1:58 p.m. EDT (17:58 GMT), our natural satellite will be at a distance of 2°08′ from the speedy little planet. The Moon will shine at a magnitude of -8.8, while Mercury will be at a magnitude of -0.0.
Now Venus is about 36 times brighter than Mercury. However, the fainter planet has the advantage of setting later. Mercury shines along with the sky’s brightest stars, and given clear skies, observers are likely to spot the innermost planet of the Solar System with the unaided eye about an hour after sunset. If seeing conditions are less than ideal, a pair of binoculars will help you to spot the speedy little planet.
If you wonder “Where is Venus tonight?” or “When is Mercury visible in the night sky?”, use the stargazing guide Star Walk 2. Simply launch the astronomical app, type “Venus” or “Mercury” in the search field, select the corresponding search result, and Star Walk 2 will provide you with all the necessary info. With the help of the Sky Live section, you’ll easily determine the best viewing time for your location, while the AR mode will allow you to view the map of celestial objects overlaid on the image from your device’s camera.
Continuing its journey across the sky, the Moon will come close to another brilliant planet, the reddish Mars, by the weekend. Follow us on social media, and you won’t miss their spectacular conjunction and other bright astronomical events!
Wishing you clear skies and happy stargazing!