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Night sky in May – southern hemisphere


Highlights: Jupiter and Venus bright.

Here is a view of the night sky this month as seen from mid-southern latitudes such as Sydney (-33° 52′) in mid May, 2015, at 10pm local time.

The planets in May 2015

Mercury is in the evening sky at the start of the month where you might spot it to the west after sunset, shining at magnitude -1.4. See it pass close to the Pleiades star cluster.

Venus shines brilliantly at mag -4 in the evening sky and can be spotted as it gets dark, like a bright beacon. Through a telescope it looks like a small gibbous moon.

Mars is finally leaving our skies as the Sun catches up with it and it sinks into the evening twilight. Find out more about Mars here including maps to show its position in the sky.

Jupiter is still bright but low for southern hemisphere observers, in the constellation of Cancer, and shining from dusk for the early part of the night at magnitude -2.2. A small telescope will show the bands in its cloud tops and the four brightest moons.

Saturn rises in the evening now, but will be high in the constellation of Scorpius for southern observers. With a magnitude of +0.3, it is bright and easy to find. Even a small telescope will show its beautiful rings.

Note: The sky will appear much the same from other cities at similar latitudes, such as Perth or Wellington, at around 10pm local time. Imagine holding it over your head so that the centre of the chart is the zenith and the edge runs all the way around your horizon. The sky appears the same at the start of the month an hour later and at the end of the month an hour earlier.

We use Virtual Sky, a customizable, browser-based planetarium, courtesy of Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network. Tip: The chart is interactive. Click on the date or location to the top left of the chart to view the sky at a different time or from another location. If you want to check out the sky as seen from the northern hemisphere, click here.