Tomorrow – May 22, 2017 – get up an hour or two before sunrise to see the moon and planet Venus, the second-brightest and third-brightest objects in the sky after the sun. The brilliant twosome will be near each other, a beautiful and compelling sight as seen from around the globe.
We’ll all be able to see these worlds shining in our dawn sky, but folks at southerly latitudes have the better view. Southern Hemisphere observers will see the moon and Venus lighting up the morning sky for a much longer period before sunrise than we will at more northerly latitudes.
In fact, the farther south you are on Earth’s globe on May 22, the bigger your advantage for catching the moon and Venus in the predawn/dawn sky. For example – on May 22, 2017 at Anchorage, Alaska (61o north latitude) – the moon rises about 12 minutes before sunrise, and Venus comes up about 35 minutes before the sun. On this same date at Honolulu, Hawaii (21o north latitude), the moon and Venus both come up well over two hours before sunrise.
At the more southerly latitudes, you also have a good chance of spotting Mercury, the innermost planet of the solar system. For example, Mercury follows Venus into the sky about one and one-quarter hours before sunrise on May 22 from Honolulu, Hawaii.
In short, southerly latitudes have the big advantage for catching the moon, Venus and especially Mercury in the predawn/dawn sky. And, far and away, the Southern Hemisphere has the advantage over the Northern Hemisphere for watching the great morning spectacle. South of the equator, all three worlds – the moon, Venus and Mercury – climb above the horizon before the dawn’s first light. Click here for recommended almanacs, which can tell you the rising times for the moon, Venus and Mercury in your sky.
Bottom line: From around the world on the morning of May 22, 2017, you’ll find a picturesque scene in the east before dawn, as the waning crescent moon and very bright planet Venus pair up at early dawn.
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.