As darkness falls on May 26, 2020, the moon lies in front of the constellation Gemini the Twins. The lit side of the waxing crescent moon points right at the planets Mercury and Venus. Will you see both planets as shown on our chart above? Maybe. On the other hand, by the time that Mercury pierces the evening twilight, Venus might have already followed the sun beneath the western horizon. Day by day now, Venus is setting closer to the time of sundown. It’ll soon fade from view in the evening sky, as it prepares to pass between us and the sun on June 3.
You can likely see both planets (although maybe not at the same time) with your eye alone. Binoculars always come in handy when searching for objects near the rising or setting sun. Find out when Mercury and Venus set in your sky via TimeandDate or Old Farmer’s Almanac.
Spotting Mercury will be more of a challenge, especially from southerly latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere. Mercury does not stay out till after dark, but may be glimpsed near the sunset point on the horizon as dusk is giving way to darkness. Mercury follows the sun beneath the horizon about 1 3/4 hours after sunset at mid-northern latitudes, 1 1/2 hours after sunset at the Earth’s equator, and 1 1/4 hours after sunset at temperate latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere.
Live in the United States or Canada? Find out Mercury’s setting time for your sky at Old Farmer’s Almanac.
For virtually anyplace worldwide, you can find out Mercury’s setting time at TimeandDate.
Mercury is as bright as a 1st-magnitude star, but its luster may be tarnished by the glow of evening twilight. If the eye alone doesn’t do the trick, binoculars help out immensely in any Mercury quest. Remember to use the moon as your arrow in the sky, its lit side pointing directly at Mercury. Gaze in the vicinity of the horizon, starting, perhaps, 3/4 hour after sunset.
By the way, Mercury and the sun are both in front of the constellation Taurus the Bull right now. Mercury passes out of the constellation Taurus and into the constellation Gemini on May 28, 2020. The sun won’t meet up with the constellation Gemini until June 21, 2020.
Want to know which constellation of the zodiac now backdrops the sun? Click on Heavens-Above – Sun
On or near May 26, 2020, the moon shines to the south of the Gemini stars, Castor and Pollux. The bright star on the other side of the moon is Procyon, the brightest star in the constellation Canis Minor the Little Dog.
However, you might not catch Procyon from northerly latitudes. From mid-northern latitudes, like those in the United States, Procyon hovers over the western horizon at dusk/nightfall, and sinks below the horizon shortly thereafter.
To know which constellation of the zodiac lies behind the moon, click on Heavens-Above – Moon.
Every month, as the moon makes its monthly rounds in front of the constellations of the zodiac, it always passes to the north of Procyon and to the south of the Gemini stars, Castor and Pollux.
Bottom line: On May 26, 2020, the lit side of the waxing crescent moon serves as your arrow in the sky, pointing right at the planets Mercury and Venus. Venus is much brighter, but also lower in the sunset sky. Mercury is fainter, but higher up in the sky after sunset. Will you see them at the same time? Look and see.
Bruce McClure has served as lead writer for EarthSky's popular Tonight pages since 2004. He's a sundial aficionado, whose love for the heavens has taken him to Lake Titicaca in Bolivia and sailing in the North Atlantic, where he earned his celestial navigation certificate through the School of Ocean Sailing and Navigation. He also writes and hosts public astronomy programs and planetarium programs in and around his home in upstate New York.