Astronomical SIGHTS in a SKY NEAR YOU!

Graphics c/o Starry Night Education

This page updated May 20, 2019.

See also the HOME page or COMING EVENTS .

VIS. COMETS page has more details and finder charts for currently visible comets.

The Planets for Spring/Summer 2019:

Venus continues as the obvious Morning Star into the spring skies of 2019 but it is getting closer and closer to the Sun. By July it is behind Sol and not visible until late fall as an Evening Star. The aptly-named Mercury circles the Sun quickly and alternates between morning sky and evening every few months. It re-appears in the western sky in June 2019. Jupiter has finally changed over into the evening skies and reaches opposition June 10 after which it is primarily an evening sky planet.

Mars is moderately bright (magnitude 1.8), but it is too far to see any features or phase on its surface. It passed the Pleiades in early April and skims by M35 on May 18/19. See below. That will be a good photo opportunity! At the end of May it starts to get lost in twilight in the west after sunset but it has one last hurray on June 17 when Mercury passes less than 0.3° from Mars in twilight sunset skies.

Saturn follows Jupiter into evening skies by about two hours and becomes an evening sky object by the start of summer. It is in Sagittarius and easy viewing just to the east of Jupiter all summer long.

As for the gas giants, both Uranus and Neptune finally return to evening skies by early summer but they are still visible only in the wee hours of the morning.

Dwarf planet, Pluto is in Sagittarius near Saturn. Even then, it can be seen only in moonless sky and with larger telescopes. 2019 Finder charts for all planets, dwarf planets and asteroids are found on our CHARTS/FORMS page.

May/June Sky Sights

May 2: Will you see all three, Crescent Moon, Venus and Mercury in East?
This morning is the closest approach of the 2-day before new Moon to the planet Venus and as it turns out Mercury is also nearby. While the crescent Moon and Venus are bright enough, Mercury will be a tougher object to view during this twilight observation. Venus rises first above the eastern horizon at 5:20 am DST (times for Owen Sound, ON), then the Moon appears at about 5:35 am DST with Mercury a few minutes later but 10° farther north on the horizon. The Sun, another 10° beyond Mercury, clears the horizon at 6:12 am DST but has been brightening the sky all the while. Diagram below shows the group at 5:45 am DST with the Moon just over a degree above the horizon. The ecliptic is marked in green.

Screen Shot 2019-04-20 at 4.18.17 PM

May 6: Eta-Aquariid Meteors
This moderately good shower (60 per hour max) comes at new Moon time so the sky will be as dark as it can be. The best time to view will be late on Sunday night and into Monday morning with peak about 2 hours before dawn on Monday May 6. This shower is best in the southern hemisphere where up to 60 shooting stars per hour may be seen, and a lesser number will show in the north -for our latitude perhaps 20 or 30 per hour. Chart showing the radiant is found below. Note; Aquarius rises only an hour or so before the start of dawn twilight in the east.

Eta-Aquariid radiant

May 10: Crescent Moon passes through Beehive
From about 10 pm to after midnight, the 6.5 day old crescent Moon passes the southern part of the Beehive Cluster which is about two Moon diameters in size. Several 7th magnitude stars will be occulted by the dark edge of the Moon, and since the Moon is airless, the disappearance is very sudden at the instant that the point source encounters the opaque edge of the Moon. These are interesting to watch and the option of the Moon eastwards through the cluster will be obvious over the 3 hours or so. Detailed information, including star charts and event times is provided in the WEBLOG.

M44 Moon pass May 10_inv

May 19: Mars Closest to centre of M35 open cluster
Another open cluster, M35 in Gemini is also close to the ecliptic and regularly occulted by the Moon and planets. Mars comes close to M35 every to years or so and this time, will pass a short distance from the centre. Minimum separation is on May 19 with Mars about 1/3 of a degree (20 minutes) from the centre of M35. M35 is about the size of the Moon so Mars will appear to skim the outskirts. We get to see it about half a degree below the cluster on May 18 and above it (but a bit closer) on May 19. The Full Moon will brighten the sky a bit, but it is worth getting out for a look. See SKY SIGHTS for a star map.

Mars M35 May 17-20

June 1: Crescent Moon near Venus and Pleiades
Early in the morning on June 1 (diagram below is for 5:10 am DST), the 2-day old crescent Moon shines near the -3.9 magnitude planet Venus, about 6° to its east. Twilight will be well advanced by then as the Sun rises about 30 minutes later, but see if you can spot the Pleiades another 10° to the east. M45 rises first at about 4:45 am followed in a few minutes by Venus, then the Moon. Earthshine should be quite prominent on the Moon. Venus moves slowly eastward maintaining its altitude above the horizon and passes 6° below the Pleiades on June 11, but again, twilight makes this a difficult observation.

Venus Cres M45 June 1 am

June 4/5: Mars, Moon, Mercury in West
The sky above the setting Sun is where to look for the 2-day old Moon near Mercury first and then a day later, Mars. Diagram below shows the position of the crescent near Mercury on June 4 and Mars on June 5 (about 6 degrees of separation on each night). The view below is about 10 pm each night and will be dark enough to take an image or two.

Moon Mars Merc Jun4&5 pm

June 10: Jupiter at Opposition
Look south at midnight to see the king of planets shining in the sky as the brightest object in that direction. Shining at magnitude -2.6, Jupiter is as bright as it can get for the year being it is closest to us right now in its orbit. At opposition, both Earth and the planet in question are closest to each other in space and on the same side of the Sun so the planet is highin the sky opposite the Sun at midnight. The apparent size of the planet in a telescope is also largest at this time and Jupiter makes it even more interesting being the biggest object in the sky apart from the full width of Saturn’s rings. Planet sizes are measured in arc-seconds where 60” (seconds) = 1’ (minute). This time around Jupiter will be about 46 arc-seconds across. Compare this to Venus, which gets 50 arc-seconds at its closest. Right now, being across the solar system from us, it is a mere 10 arc-seconds in diameter (still shining at -3.8 magnitude, however). Diagram below is for June 10 at 1 am or so.

Screen Shot 2019-05-20 at 8.35.08 PM

June 17-19: Mars and Mercury Close Approach
Look west after sunset and the sky is dark for an appulse of Mercury and Mars on the evenings of June 17-19. This is the closest approach for the current pass of Mercury and Mars with a separation of about a quarter degree (18.5 minutes) on June 18. Both should be visible in a low power view in a telescope. They are under a degree apart from June 17 to June 19. Both stay above the western horizon until 11 pm and should be visible in dark sky as long as the view to the west is free of clouds. They are 15 degrees up at sunset (9:11 pm DST on June 18) and only 6° high at 10 pm when twilight is mostly gone. Gemini’s Pollux and Castor are just above the pair. View below shows the view June 17.

Screen Shot 2019-05-14 at 2.32.32 PM

A summary of the entire 2019 year of ASTRONOMY events can be found here:
An astronomical calendar for 2018 (with diagrams of sky sights like those above) will be available soon for download from Alan Dyer's website here: (look at the bottom of the "about Alan" page). Or here: Amazing Sky Calendar 2019

Meteor shower calendar for 2019 from is available here:
EarthSky Meteor Calendar 2019