Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and the Moon Tonight, May 12, 2013


Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and the moon shine during early evening hours as seen from the Chicago area. On this Mother’s Day, clear cool weather prevailed throughout the day with a clear sky into the evening.

Venus is making its grand entrance into the evening skies. During early May, it shines low in the western sky, just after sunset. For the next several days it sets during twilight. From a location with an unobstructed view, this brilliant planet is near the horizon and visible without a telescope or binocular. In the image above, click to see it larger, Venus is indicated with the arrow at the lower right. Bright Jupiter is 16 degrees to the upper left of Venus. The waxing crescent moon, notice the earth shine in the image, is 6 degrees to the left of Jupiter.

In the image above, notice the moon’s night portion is gently illuminated. This occurs from sunlight that is reflected from our planet, which is just past the full phase as seen from the moon. The reflected sunlight reaches the night portion of the moon. Similarly, the full moon illuminates the ground here on clear nights.

Saturn and Spica (Virgo) are visible in the southeastern sky as the sky darkens as shown in the above image. (Click it to see it larger.)

Later in the month, Mercury joins Jupiter and Venus in the western sky.  For more about this celestial grouping, see our monthly skywatching posting.

For more about Venus as an evening star, see our detailed explanation of this evening appearance this year.

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