The Sky This Week for May 25 to 28
The Big Dipper, a crescent Moon, and other fascinating things to look for in the sky this week.
By Richard Talcott
Thursday, May 25
New Moon occurs at 3:44 p.m. EDT. At its New phase, the Moon crosses the sky with the Sun and so remains hidden by our star. Because the Moon reaches perigee, the closest point in its orbit around Earth, only six hours later (at 9:21 p.m. EDT), residents in coastal areas can expect higher than normal tides for the next few days. At perigee, the center of the Moon lies 221,958 miles (357,207 kilometers) from Earth’s center.
Friday, May 26
Although the Moon passed nearly between the Sun and Earth yesterday, it reappears as a slender crescent in this evening’s sky. Scan just above the west-northwestern horizon with binoculars about a half-hour after sunset, when the Moon stands 5° (less than a typical binocular field) high. You also should see Mars some 5° to Luna’s upper right.
Saturday, May 27
Saturn offers a visual treat all week. The ringed planet rises before 10 p.m. local daylight time and climbs some 30° above the southern horizon by 2 a.m. Shining at magnitude 0.1, Saturn is easily the brightest object in the constellation Ophiuchus. When viewed through a telescope this week, the gas giant world shows an 18″-diameter disk surrounded by a spectacular ring system that spans 41″ and tilts 27° to our line of sight.
Sunday, May 28
Look high in the northwest after darkness falls this week and you’ll be greeted by the familiar sight of the Big Dipper. The Dipper is the sky’s most conspicuous asterism — a recognizable pattern of stars that doesn’t form a complete constellation shape. It makes up the body and tail of Ursa Major the Great Bear. Use the Pointers, the two stars at the end of the Dipper’s bowl, to find Polaris, which lies due north for everyone north of the equator. Polaris marks the end of the Little Dipper’s handle. On evenings in late May, the relatively faint stars of this dipper arc directly above Polaris.