Venus has now moved into the evening sky but is very poorly placed. Venus sets about 45 minutes after Sunset in the WNW. For the next 5 months, Venus will be a "horizon hugging planet" stuck in the bright glow of twilight.
Jupiter begins the month fairly high in the WNW as evening twilight fades. Each evening Jupiter moves lower into the bright twilight. By the end of the month, Jupiter moves into the glare of the Sunset and will be lost from view. Jupiter passes by Venus towards the end of the month.
Mercury makes a poor appearance near Venus during the 2nd half of the month. The planet is very low on the WNW horizon next to Venus. Just like Venus; Mercury is also in a terrible position and stuck in the bright twilight. It will be very difficult to see the planet at all.
Saturn has none of the problems of the evening planets. Saturn is already up in the SSE as evening twilight fades. The planet dims down a tad as the month progresses. The planet is in a fair position for late evening observations.
There are no bright morning planets this month...
11 May Thin Crescent Moon below Jupiter, Dusk
12 May Thin Crescent Moon upper left of Jupiter, Dusk
21 May Waxing Gibbous Moon just right of the Bright Star Spica, Evening
22 May Waxing Gibbous Moon lower right of Saturn, Evening
Eta Aquariid Meteor Shower:
This weak meteor shower is terribly placed on the morning of 5 May. The peak of the shower doesn't happen until broad daylight on the morning of the 5th. The meteor shower's Constellation of Aquarius has not even fully risen when Dawn breaks. This meteor shower is completely ruined for our viewing area. This event is only mentioned for completeness of coverage.
This grouping or conjunction of 3 planets is ruined by their low altitude and bright twilight interference. From 24 to 29 May; Jupiter, Venus, and Mercury form a close triangle of sorts. This event is very unfavorable for our area. All these planets will be difficult to see and will have set about 45 minutes after Sunset.
C/2012 F6 (Lemmon)
This comet is certainly going to live up to its name sake. The comet failed to reach its predicted brightness and is now fading fast. All hopes for this comet to be visible with the unaided eye have faded with the comet's brightness. As the comet moves into our Pre –Dawn Northern Skies; it will be well below detection level of the unaided eye. C/2012 F6 (Lemmon) has no chance of being a great comet. Right now the only comet that has a chance of being a really great, bright comet is C/2012 S1 (ISON). We'll know more by Oct- Nov 2013 if this comet will live up to predictions.
After the May Skies list of ruined and unfavorable sky events; we'll end on a more positive note with Saturn. Another reason to observe the Planet Saturn in a telescope is its moons. None of the Moons of Saturn can be seen with the unaided eye or small binoculars. Saturn's biggest and brightest moon, Titan may be glimpsed in giant binoculars such as 11 X 70.
In a telescope, the view of Saturn's Moons improves dramatically. In a small telescope such as a 3" (75 mm) objective size; Titan and one other moon can be seen. The number of moons visibly grows to 5 when viewed through a 6" (150 mm) objective size telescope. What makes Titan so interesting to observe is; it's the only moon in our Solar System that has an atmosphere. The yellowish color of Titan comes from its poisonous atmosphere. Saturn is now in a fair position for late evening observations. It may be worth a view through a telescope to see what you think of Titan and the other Moons of Saturn.
Gary T. Nowak
Vermont Astronomical Society
PO Box 4508