Observing the planets in May 2022

Our month-by-month guide to locating the planets throughout 2022.

Finding and observing the planets of the Solar System in the night sky isn’t as tricky as you think. You just need to know where to look.

When a planet is in a particularly favourable position in the evening or morning sky, it will look like a bright ‘star’, the most obvious point of light visible to the naked eye.

The other thing about spotting the planets in the night sky is that they can also be found along the ecliptic, which is the imaginary line that the Sun appears to traverse in the sky over the course of a day.

Since the major planets of the Solar System orbit the Sun in about the same plane, the ecliptic also marks the path of the planets.

Is it bright, but on the wrong side of the sky to the ecliptic? Then it’s not a planet.

For more advice, read our guide on how to find planets in the night sky.

Once you’ve got to grips with this, all you need to know is what planets will be visible in the night each month, so you know what to look out for, and what dates they will be best placed.

This is where our guide below comes in. Use it throughout the coming 12 months to find out which planets are visible in the night sky in 2022, which are at opposition, and to keep track of any interesting upcoming conjunctions.

Check our Astronomy Advice section throughout the year for more up-to-date stargazing tips, and sign up to the BBC Sky at Night Magazine e-newsletter for lunar phases and monthly astronomy highlights delivered direct to your email inbox.

You can also listen to our Star Diary podcast each month for even more advice on what to see in the night sky.

Venus has a spectacular morning conjunction with Jupiter at the end of April and into early May. Visible in the morning sky approximately 30-45 minutes before sunrise. Closest apparent separation of 22’ 43” occurs on 1 May. Credit: Pete Lawrence

May 2022

Mercury: Impressive evening planet at start of May, near the Pleiades.

Venus: Morning planet, near Jupiter on 1 May. 10%-lit waning crescent Moon nearby on 27 May.

Mars: Morning planet. Close encounter with Jupiter at end of May.

Watch out for a total lunar eclipse on 16 May. This will be a challenging target because the Moon sets during totality. Credit: Pete Lawrence

Jupiter: Morning planet, near Venus on 1 May and Mars on 29 May. Waning Moon nearby on 25 May.

Saturn: Low altitude morning object. Waning gibbous Moon on 22 May.

Uranus: Uranus lines up with the Sun on 5 May and not visible this month.

Neptune: Neptune is a morning planet, but not visible this month.

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