Finally, a TOTAL lunar eclipse plus pretty planet pairings
May 25, 2022
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May ends with a couple of great planet-spotting opportunities. See the slender crescent Moon meet Venus. And watch Jupiter and Mars get increasing close, culminating in a conjunction where they’ll appear only a Moon’s-width apart.
While you’re observing the planets, look for shooting stars. The Eta Aquarids peak in the predawn hour of May 5. The comet responsible for the Eta Aquarids shower is Halley’s Comet! In the Northern Hemisphere, we expect 10 meteors per hour.
A total lunar eclipse of May’s full Moon appears on Sunday night, May 15, with the entire eclipse visible from the eastern half of the U.S. and Canada and all of South America! West of the Mississippi, the Moon will rise already eclipsed, offering intriguing photography opportunities. Many folks in the media call this a “Blood Moon.”
Before dawn in the east on the 1st, Venus and Jupiter are still wonderfully close together.
From the 3rd to the 20th, look for an easy planet lineup featuring, from left to right, Venus, Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn.
The crescent Moon serves as an easy guide to all of the planets beginning on the 22nd, when it’s just below Saturn.
The Moon will dangle below Jupiter and Mars on the 25th and below Venus on the 27th.
From the 27th to the 30th, Jupiter and Mars get increasingly close in the predawn sky in the east. (Photos below, courtesy of NASA.)
Sunday morning, May 29, brings the Mars-Jupiter Conjunction in the predawn sky. Look east above the horizon for Giant Jupiter. Orange-red Mars will be just to its right. The two planets are only 1/2-degree apart. If you have binoculars, you’ll better see the pairing (within a single field) and also Jupiter’s moons.