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For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me want to dream. – Vincent Van Gogh


Mercury is in the constellation of Taurus and is deep in the glow of sunrise.

Venus (magnitude –4.3, in Cancer) is the brilliant “Evening Star” in the west from twilight into late evening. It still shines nearly as high in the dusk as it ever gets, and it doesn’t set until about 2 hours after dark.

In a telescope Venus is a dazzling globe hardly more than half lit (about 54% illuminated) and 21 arcseconds in diameter. It’s enlarging a little more every day while waning in phase. Next week it’ll appear half lit, then it will become a bigger, dramatically thinning crescent dropping low from mid-June through mid-July.

Mars (magnitude 1.6, in Leo) glows weakly to the upper left of Venus by an ever-shrinking distance: 15° on the evening of May 21st, 12° by the 28th. That’s hardly more than a fist at arm’s length.

But no conjunction is in store. Mars and Venus will reach a minimum separation of 3.6° on June 30th, then they’ll start to draw apart again as Venus plunges down toward the sunset. This is called a quasi-conjunction, because they don’t pass each other although they do get within 5° of each other.

In a telescope Mars is just a tiny blob 5 arcseconds in diameter. Don’t be too disappointed.

Jupiter (magnitude –2.1, in Taurus) is beginning to emerge from the bright glow of sunrise. Look for it very low in the east in about 40 minutes before sunup.

Saturn (magnitude +1.0, in dim Pisces) is moderately low in the southeast before and during early dawn.

Uranus in Taurus and Neptune in Pisces are still too low in the east before dawn begins.

Pluto is retrograde in Aquarius.

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