Woman stargazing with telescope

Minnesota Skies May

Our local guide to observing celestial objects and events

May 2018

May is an excellent time to practice star hopping—a fun method for using one group of stars to find other stars or constellations.

In early May, the Big Dipper shines nearly overhead for us Minnesotans around 11 pm. Using the two stars at the end of the scoop of the Dipper, follow them away from the open scoop and the first bright star you come to is Polaris, the North Star. Follow those same two stars in the other direction to locate Leo, the Lion, part of which looks like a backward question mark. Follow the curved path of the handle of the Dipper to “arc to Arcturus”, a ruddy colored red giant star in Bootes.

Keep following that arced path to “speed on to Spica” a bright star in Virgo. You will now be looking about 35 degrees above the southern horizon. Jupiter gleams about 25 degrees left of Spica.

Blue constellations are highlighted on a dark night sky, with a dotted line that shows how to find various stars from those in the Big Dipper.

Sky-lights

Detailed information on this month’s sky pairings and highlights.

May Highlight Comments
1-31 Venus very bright all month 9 pm, Low WNW
4 Saturn 5 degrees left of Moon, Mars 16 degrees below left of Saturn 4:30 am, SE
5 Saturn right of Moon, Mars below left of Moon 4:30 am, SE
6 Mars below right of Moon 4:30 am, SE
17 Venus about 6 degrees right of thin crescent Moon
Gorgeous!
9 pm, Low W
19 Beehive cluster of stars about 6 degrees above Moon 10 pm, W
Use binoculars
21 Bright star Regulus just below Moon 10  pm, SW
26 Jupiter below left of Moon 10  pm, SSE
27 Jupiter below right of Moon 10  pm, SE
May 31 –
June 1
Saturn just right of Moon 11:30 pm, Low SE
3 am, S

Resources

When viewing planets, stars or constellations in the night sky, it is helpful to use a sky map.

Minnesota Starwatch is another great resource for tracking the night sky.

Meet up with other stargazing enthusiasts via Twin Cities Sidewalk Astronomers, MN Astronomical Society & MN Institute for Astrophysics.