An artistic depiction of planets aligning in the May night sky as viewed from a mountain top, with observers using telescopes and a clear Milky Way in the background, under the guidance of a NASA scie

May 2024 Skywatching Tips from NASA – Discover What’s Up in the Sky This Month with Science@NASA.

Introduction to May 2024 Skywatching

As we transition from spring to summer, the night sky in May 2024 offers an array of celestial wonders, suitable for both amateur stargazers and seasoned astronomers. This guide, based on insights from NASA’s Science@NASA series, will walk you through the top astronomical events to look out for this month. Whether you have a telescope, binoculars, or just your eyes, there’s something in the sky for everyone.

Planetary Alignments and Conjunctions

One of the highlights of May 2024’s skywatching activities includes a series of impressive planetary alignments. Starting at the beginning of the month, keep an eye on the western horizon just after sunset to catch a glimpse of Venus and Mercury appearing extremely close to each other, offering a stunning view, particularly on the 5th of May.

Venus and the Crescent Moon

Following the Venus-Mercury conjunction, Venus will continue to shine brightly and will make a close approach to the crescent moon on the evening of May 17. This pairing will be visible to the naked eye, creating a beautiful and photogenic scene just after sunset.

Jupiter and Saturn

For those who enjoy waking up before dawn, Jupiter and Saturn will be visible in the eastern sky about an hour before sunrise throughout May. Jupiter, especially, will be a spectacular sight, appearing brighter and more prominent than most stars in the sky. By using a small telescope, viewers can also catch a glimpse of Jupiter’s largest moons.

Meteor Showers: The Eta Aquariids

The Eta Aquariid meteor shower, which is active from April 19 to May 28, will reach its peak on the night of May 6 into the morning of May 7. This meteor shower, originating from debris left by Comet Halley, usually provides a high zenith hourly rate of about 40 meteors per hour. The best viewing time is in the early hours before dawn, particularly in areas away from city lights.

Lunar Occultations and Eclipses

May 2024 also features interesting lunar events. An exciting event to watch is the occultation of Mars by the moon on the night of May 24. This rare event occurs when Mars disappears behind the dark part of the waxing gibbous moon and reappears on the other side. Observers in North and South America will be able to view this event with the naked eye.

Lunar Eclipse

Ending the month, a penumbral lunar eclipse will take place on the night of May 30. During this type of eclipse, the moon will pass through the Earth’s partial shadow, or penumbra, causing a subtle dimming that can be hard to detect without proper monitoring. The penumbral lunar eclipse will be visible from the Americas, Western Europe, and Africa.

Observing Tips

For optimal skywatching experiences in May 2024, consider the following tips:

  • Find a dark spot away from city lights to enhance visibility of fainter celestial objects.
  • Allow your eyes up to 30 minutes to adjust to the dark for meteor showers and deep sky watching.
  • Use apps or websites for real-time sky charts that can help identify and track celestial bodies in your local sky.
  • For telescopic views, ensure your equipment is properly calibrated and consider using filters to enhance the visibility of planetary features.


May 2024 offers a splendid range of celestial events that will delight skywatchers around the globe. From stunning planetary conjunctions to mesmerizing meteor showers, and intriguing lunar phenomena, there is much to explore in the night sky. Whether you are a novice hoping to make your first observations or an experienced astronomer seeking to delve deeper into celestial observations, May’s night sky will not disappoint.


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