Each Monday I pick out the northern hemisphere’s celestial highlights (mid-northern latitudes) for the week ahead, but be sure to check my main feed for more in-depth 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. With the New Moon having caused a solar eclipse last weekend it means our satellite will sink soon after sunset, but not before putting on a fabulous display as a crescent. Perfect, then, for a “shooting star” display later this week whose root cause is thought to be Halley’s comet. It’s also a great week fro planet-spotting … though mostly only if you can get up early.
Although the week begins with a challenging post-sunset sight of the “Swift Planet” and a super-slim crescent Moon just after sunset. Good luck!
Monday, May 2, 2022: A crescent Moon with Mercury and the Pleiades
Look to the western sky immediately after sunset and you might just get a view of a rare triple conjunction of the planet Mercury, the Pleiades open star cluster (also called the “Seven Sisters”) and a 4%-lit crescent Moon.
They will appear almost in a straight line. Use binoculars if you want to see Mercury and get the finest views possible of the Pleiades and that slim crescent Moon.
Tuesday, May 3, 2022: Earthshine on a crescent Moon
Look to the western sky during dusk and you’ll see a beautiful 9%-lit crescent Moon shining. Put a pair of binoculars on it and you’ll see “Earthshine” or “planet-shine,” which is sunlight reflecting off Earth and on to the Moon’s dark half.
Thursday, May 5, 2022: Eta Aquarid meteor shower and four planets
The very early hours of today are the best time to see the peak of the Eta Aquarid meteor shower. So keep your eyes peeled (no binoculars or telescope necessary) for its 10-30 fast-moving “shooting stars” per hour (a dark sky will help you see the most), though more will be seen from the southern hemisphere.
The waxing crescent Moon will be 15%-lit, but will have set soon after dusk yesterday.
The Eta Aquarid meteor shower is caused by dust and debris being left in the inner Solar System by none other than the famous Halley’s Comet. Although they can appear from anywhere the radiant point for the meteors is the constellation of Aquarius, The Water Jar low in the southeastern night sky. Expect to see “trains’—bright streaks that stay visible for seconds.
Friday, May 6, 2022: A planetary parade
If you are up before dawn you’ll be rewarded with a lovely view of Venus, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn in the southeastern sky.
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.