NASA returned with its monthly update on the visible goodies in the night sky in May 2021.
Moon, Saturn, Jupiter triangle
The first thing you can spot on early Tuesday, May 4th, is a large triangular formation made up of the Moon, Saturn, and Jupiter.
With clear skies and a body clock to keep you awake in the early hours of the morning, you can see the formation to the east-southeast, with Saturn first ascending at 2:17 a.m. CET. The moon and Jupiter appear at about the same time to the lower left of Saturn, at 3:01 a.m. and 3:02 a.m., respectively, with Jupiter about 10 degrees to the left of the moon.
Rocky inner planets
The middle of the month offers the opportunity to see all four rocky inner planets of our solar system at the same time – and yes, Earth is one of them. To see the other three – Mercury, Venus, and Mars – you must have an unobstructed view of the western horizon on or about May 14th.
Look west about 30 minutes after sunset for the best opportunity to see Mercury, Venus, and Mars.
Since Venus appears low in the night sky, you need to find a suitable location to ensure a clear view. Lakefronts or beaches should do the trick, as should open plains or an elevated position such as high on a mountain or tall building.
From May 14th to 17th, the moon will join what NASA calls this “beautiful planetary tableau”. So make sure you keep your eyes open too.
Total lunar eclipse
For several hours on May 26th, you can enjoy a total lunar eclipse when the moon passes through the shadow of the earth. This causes the moon to darken and take on a reddish color. Because of this color change, a lunar eclipse is also known as a “blood moon”.
“The red color comes from sunlight filtered through the Earth’s atmosphere – a ring of light created by all sunrises and sunsets that take place on our planet at that time,” NASA explained on its website.
The space agency notes that while you should never look directly at a solar eclipse to protect your eyesight, it is safe to view a lunar eclipse as there is no direct sunlight involved.
The map below gives a rough idea of how well you can see the May lunar eclipse. Simply put, the further west you are in the US, the more of the solar eclipse you can enjoy.
For more information on this and all of the other goodies the night sky has in store for you throughout May, visit the dedicated NASA website with all the information you need.
And if you’ve ever thought about shooting the night sky, check out this article on digital trends with some top tips.