See The Supernova And ‘Strawberry Moon’ Rise: The Night Sky This Week
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 See In The Night Sky This Week: May 29-June 4, 2023
This week it’s all about getting a good view of the supernova SN 2023ixf and the full “Strawberry Moon,” but two of the most famous planets also get a look-in. First comes Mars, which makes a trip through the sparkling stars of the Beehive Cluster. That will look great in binoculars, but naked eyes are plenty for the next sight—a bright Venus at its farthest from the Sun straight after sunset.
Monday, May 29: Venus and Pollux
Look west after sunset tonight and you’ll see bright planet Venus very close to Pollux, the brightest star in the constellation Gemini. Pollux is an orangey giant star about 34 light-years distant and the 18th brightest star in the night sky.
Wednesday, May 31: Moon and Spica
A 89%-lit waxing gibbous Moon will tonight shine about 3º from Spica, the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo and about 250 light-years distant. Look east after dark.
Friday, June 2: Mars in the Beehive Cluster
Tonight the red planet—past its best, but still shining brightly—will be inside one of the most beautiful open star clusters of all, in the constellation of Cancer. It’s set to be marvellous sight in binoculars!
Saturday, June 3: Best time to see the ‘Strawberry Moon’ rise
Although the moment of full Moon is on June 4, 2023 at 03:41 UTC (23:41 p.m EDT on June 3), it will look best at moonrise on Saturday, June 3, 2023 for anyone in North America, Europe or Africa. That will be very close to sunset, but check the exact moonrise where you are.
Sunday, June 4: Venus at greatest elongation
Look to the west just after sunset and you’ll see Venus, a dazzling bright point of light that’s known as the “Evening Star” when it looks like this.
The closest planet to Earth is today at its greatest elongation—the farthest from the Sun (at 45º) that it ever appears to get as seen from Earth. Grab yourself an eyeful of Venus because although it’s about to get even brighter, it won’t be in the post-sunset sky for much longer.
Object of the week: Beehive Cluster
The Beehive Cluster (M44) is a one of the nearest open clusters to Earth, in the constellation of Cancer. Also called Praesepe (meaning “manger” in Latin), this group of stars about 580 light-years distant can be seen with the naked eye in a very dark sky. However, the best way to see it in light-polluted cities is to use binoculars, though which its 60 or so stars are a beautiful sight—and this week one of its “stars” will be Mars!
Times and dates given apply to mid-northern latitudes. For the most accurate location-specific information consult online planetariums like Stellarium and The Sky Live. Check planet-rise/planet-set, sunrise/sunset and moonrise/moonset times for where you are.
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.