Every Monday I select the highlights of the Northern Hemisphere sky (northern mid-latitudes) for the coming week, but be sure to check my main feed for more detailed articles on stargazing, astronomy, eclipses, and more.
What to watch for in the night sky this week: May 2-8, 2022
This week is dark. Since the New Moon caused a solar eclipse last weekend, it means that our satellite will sink shortly after sunset, but not before fabulously displaying itself as a crescent. Perfect, then, for a “shooting star” display later this week whose primary cause is believed to be Halley’s Comet. It’s also a great week for planet-gazing… though mostly only if you can get up early.
Although the week starts with a challenging post-sunset view of the “Fast Planet” and a super-thin crescent Moon just after sunset. Good luck!
Monday, May 2, 2022: Crescent Moon with Mercury and the Pleiades
Look up at the western sky immediately after sunset and you might get a view of a rare triple conjunction of the planet Mercury, the Pleiades open star cluster (also called the “Seven Sisters”), and a crescent Moon with a 4% lighting.
They will appear almost in a straight line. Use binoculars if you want to see Mercury and get the best possible views of the Pleiades and that thin crescent Moon.
Tuesday, May 3, 2022: Earthshine on a crescent Moon
Look up at the western sky at dusk and you’ll see a beautiful crescent Moon illuminated at 9% brightness. Put a pair of binoculars on it and you’ll see “Earthshine” or “planet shine,” which is sunlight reflecting off Earth and the dark half of the Moon.
Thursday May 5, 2022: Eta Aquarids meteor shower and four planets
Early today is the best time to see the peak of the Eta Aquarid meteor shower. So keep your eyes peeled (no binoculars or telescope needed) for its 10-30 fast-moving “shooting stars” per hour (a dark sky will help you see more), though more will be seen from the southern hemisphere .
The crescent Moon will have 15% illumination, but will have set shortly after nightfall yesterday.
The Eta Aquarid meteor shower is caused by dust and debris left behind in the inner Solar System by none other than the famous Halley’s Comet. Although they can appear from anywhere, the radiant point of the meteors is the constellation Aquarius, The Water Pitcher, low in the southeastern night sky. Expect to see “trains”: bright streaks that remain visible for seconds.
Friday May 6, 2022: A Planetary Parade
If you get up before sunrise, you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful view of Venus, Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn in the southeastern sky.
I wish you clear skies and wide eyes.