Since new Moon falls on May 5th, the evening stars won’t have to compete with bright moonlight during the first part of the month. That goes for planets too, and there are three easy ones in view right now.
This month Mercury makes its best showing in the evening sky all year. But, like the tricky Roman messenger and liquid metal of the same name, Mercury is elusive and slippery. It sinks from view soon after sunset. You’ll have your best chance from May 5th to about the 20th.
Mars is nearing the end of a long-running appearance in the evening sky that began late last year. It's near Castor and Pollux, the Twins of Gemini. Higher up is a pair of obvious stars that seem unusually close together. The brighter one is the planet Saturn. Next to it is Regulus, the brightest star in Leo.
To get a personally guided tour of these sights and others, hosted by Kelly Beatty, S&T's Executive Editor, download this month's audio sky tour to your iPod or other handheld device — or just use your computer to play it.