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Stargazing 2017: Five Bright Planets to Spot With the Naked Eye This May

May 06, 2017 08:23 AM EDT
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The month of May has shapen up to be a wonderful time to see planets in the sky, according to a report from Space.com. Five planets -- Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn -- will be visible with just a pair of good binoculars or even with the naked eye. Here's a guide on the best times and places to watch out for the planets.

Mercury

On the morning of May 17, Mercury will reach its greatest elongation. For the entire month of May, Mercury will only be one degree above the horizon between half-hour to one hour before sunrise. Use a pair of binoculars to look at the horizon about 15 degrees north of due east. In southern states, Mercury is expected to be a few degrees higher and is even visible without binoculars.

Venus

The spring and summer Morning Star is incredibly bright this month, especially in early May. Although it reached its peak on the last day of April, Venus maintains a nearly equal level of brightness on May. Use a telescope for Venus, and mark the calendars for the 22nd when the eastern sky will show a crescent moon and Venus glowing at its upper left at 4 a.m.

Mars

The red planet has slightly dimmed, but aspiring astronomers can still spot Mars with only a pair of binoculars at the upper right of the giant orange star Aldebaran. Early May will still allow observers to see Mars with the naked eye at dusk in the west-northwest.

Jupiter

Meanwhile, the brilliant Jupiter continues to wow those who are watching out; in telescopes, it's even brighter and larger than usual. Even Jupiter's clouds will be visible to observers looking through a medium-sized telescope. The planet hangs high enough that it's clear and sharp in telescopes up through after midnight. Look to the southeast on May 7 where Jupiter sits less than three degrees to the right of the moon.

Saturn

The beautiful ringed planet is in the constellation of Sagittarius, according to a report from Press Herald. Saturn becomes brighter and closer with every night, and its rings are particularly stunning when seen through a telescope magnifying at least 30-power. Stay up on May 13 at around 11 p.m. local time, when Saturn appears as an extremely bright star 2.5 degrees to the right of the moon.

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