Tonight – May 25, 2015 – the moon will be at or near its first quarter phase, and near the star Regulus, as darkness falls. Don’t mistake the dazzling planet Jupiter for Regulus, however. Regulus, though a 1st-magnitude star, pales next to Jupiter. Regulus shines more closely to tonight’s first quarter moon than Jupiter does. Meanwhile, Venus is the brightest object – besides the moon – up after sunset.
Next up … the Delta Aquarid meteor shower in late July and early August. It overlaps with the famous Perseid meteor shower, peaking on the mornings of August 11, 12 and 13, 2015. It’s going to be a wonderful year for the Perseids! Make your campsite reservations now. Follow the links below to learn what to expect for meteor showers during the rest of 2015.
The Earth goes between the sun and Saturn on the night of May 22-23, making this Saturn’s special day. Astronomers call this an opposition of Saturn. In other words, Saturn is opposite the sun in Earth’s sky. As a consequence, Saturn rises in the east at sunset, climbs highest up for the night at midnight and sets in the west at sunrise. It is visible all night, closest and brightest for this year.
The best time to see the planet Saturn in 2015 is here! On May 22-23, 2015, Earth passes between this planet and the sun. As a result, the ringed planet is at its brightest and out all night long. Saturn is the sixth planet outward from the sun and farthest world that’s easily visible to the unaided eye. You need a telescope to see the planet’s wide, encircling rings, but Saturn is also fun to watch with the eye alone. It shines with a steady light and golden color. Clouded out this week? Never fear. Follow the links below to learn more about seeing Saturn throughout 2015.
Tonight – May 21, 2015 – the dazzling starlike point of light near the waxing crescent moon is the planet Venus. This world ranks as the third-brightest celestial object in all the heavens, after the sun and moon. Enjoy watching the brightest and second-brightest orbs of nighttime – the moon and Venus, respectively – as they pair up together in your western sky on this evening.
The Alpha Centauri system is said to be the closest star system to our sun. It’s a double, or triple, star system. The two main components are Alpha Centauri A and Alpha Centauri B. The third star, a red dwarf called Proxima Centauri, is thought to be about 4.22 light-years distant and is actually our sun’s closest neighbor among the stars.
Is it part of the Alpha Centauri system? The actual status of Proxima as a system member is unclear. It might simply be passing nearby but not part of the system, or it might be gravitationally bound.
Still, we often say – and many others say – that Alpha Centauri is the closest star to our solar system, with the assumption that Proxima is a true part of the Alpha Centauri system.
Tonight – May 19, 2015 – people around the world will have a chance to catch the young moon beneath the blazing planet Venus after sunset. To view this very young moon, an extremely thin crescent up only briefly after sunset, you’ll want an unobstructed horizon in the sunset direction. Binoculars might come in handy for catching this little moon low in the bright twilight sky. Venus, meanwhile, will be blazing away, very bright and easy to see for a longer time after sunset.