Smiley Face in the Sky? Well, Sort of ….

Memes have been circulating promising a rare celestial conjunction in May. They usually show pictures from past events when the crescent Moon, Venus, and Jupiter aligned to create a smiley face with the two planets as the eyes. That’s not quite what we’ll see this year.

On May 23rd, the crescent Moon will be near Venus and Mercury. Mercury is not nearly as bright as Jupiter, so one of the eyes will be faint. And the three objects won’t be aligned in a proper face … the Moon will be slightly to the left and Mercury will be higher than Venus. If you use some imagination, you might be able to see a weird, crooked face:

This image (not including the white oval) comes from Stellarium, free software for home stargazers.

Don’t believe memes you see on social media – check it out yourself with Stellarium!   It’s a free app lets you see detailed sky maps and more on your computer. You can poke around in Stellarium on your own, or take it to the next step with free online training conducted by Zoom session that will let you get more out of the app for yourself, your family, or your students.   Sign up here for a free Zoom session through Rice University:
    http://space.rice.edu/nssec/training/

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