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For the month of May

Spring Sky Map © Wil Tirion

May Constellations

At nine o-clock on May evenings (ten o'clock daylight savings time), look just above the northwestern horizon to see Capella, the alpha (or brightest) star in the constellation Auriga, the Charioteer. This yellow-white giant is the eighth brightest star in the sky. To its left (west) are a trio of bright stars: Castor and Pollux, the twin stars in the constellation Gemini, and Procyon, the alpha star in Canis Minor and the ninth brightest star in the sky.

The Big Dipper, part of the constellation Ursa Major, the Great Bear, has revolved so that its bowl is now in the northwest and its handle in the northeast. Cassiopeia, the Queen, is an upright W shape right below the North Star (the star at the end of the handle of the Little Dipper); it may be hard to see because it's still quite low on the horizon.

The brightest star in the northeastern part of the sky is Vega, the alpha star in Lyra, the Harp. Vega is another of the brightest stars, ranking sixth. Below and to its left is Deneb, the alpha star in Cygnus, the Swan. Cygnus is parallel to the northeastern horizon now, seeming to fly southward. To the left of Deneb, almost in the north, is house-shaped Cepheus, the King. Below and to his left is his queen, Cassiopeia.

The two bright stars in the southeastern quadrant of the sky are orange Arcturus, the alpha star in Bootes (and the fifth brightest star), high in the east-southeast, and white Spica, the alpha star in Virgo, which is lower and nearer the meridian in the south. If you look carefully and have a clear horizon toward the southeast, you will see rising the red star Antares, the alpha star in Scorpius, one of the summer constellations. (You may wish to look for it later in the evening when it is higher.)

Midway up the southwestern quadrant of the sky is Regulus, the alpha star in Leo, the Lion. This is a good time to see if you can find the faint stars between Leo and Ursa Major that make up Leo Minor, the Little Lion. The inconspicuous constellations of Hydra, the Sea Serpent, and Crater, the Cup, occupy most of the southwestern part of the sky, while Corvus, the Crow, occupies the southern.