Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer, and the nights leading up to the holiday weekend will offer stargazers the opportunity to witness several celestial sights.
The planetary duo of Venus and Mars will be visible in the western sky every cloud-free evening into July, with Venus outshining every star in the sky. At first glance, the red planet may blend in with nearby stars, but its nickname will help onlookers spot the planet as it will glow slightly orange or red above and to the left of Venus.
Two nights in May are the best times to catch a glimpse of the planets as the duo will briefly turn into a trio as another object joins the astronomical display.
On Tuesday, May 23, the moon will glow between Venus and Mars, a gathering easily spotted in the western sky without a telescope.
An encore is on tap on Wednesday, May 24, as the moon shifts toward Mars, glowing directly above the red planet. While no telescope is needed, it will be a good night to zoom in on the objects as they will be in the same field of view even when looking through a telescope.
That won’t be the only noteworthy sight worth gazing up at the night sky to take in through the end of the month.
Every cloud-free night through the end of May will present stargazers with the chance to see the International Space Station (ISS) glide across the sky.
When it’s visible, the ISS is often one of the brightest objects in the sky after the sun and moon. Unlike airplanes with blinking lights, the ISS appears as a solid bright ball of light as it makes its way across the sky.
Each night, the ISS will appear at different times, and the times will vary from city to city, so it is important to check what time it will be visible from your area.
While it will be visible every night of the week, the space station’s brightest passes over the U.S. will occur late in the week and through Memorial Day weekend.
“If you go outside, right at sunset, right after the sun goes down and look west, you’ll see these planets strung out in a line extending about 50 degrees or so,” said Bill Cooke, a lead at NASA’s meteoroid environment office. “Anybody who can see the sun will be able to see it.”
Produced in association with AccuWeather