May Constellations


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This view spans most of the sky as seen on spring nights. As evening begins, the brilliant winter stars are setting in the west - including Sirius, the brightest of all night time stars. Orion can still be seen, but briefly, as it sinks into the sunset.

Our attention is now drawn to the zenith, where several new star groups dominate the scene: Leo the lion's catlike form is almost straight overhead, the "big dipper" and the other stars of Ursa Major the great bear are at their best in the north, and in the east, two first magnitude stars mark the cone-shaped Bootes the herdsman and Virgo the maiden.

[More on the constellations below...]

Bootes's leading star, Arcturus, is distinctly orange-yellow, making it easy to distingush from the bluish Spica in Virgo. Note the delicate curve of the northern crown, Corona Borealis, next to Bootes. In the east, rising a little later in the evening, there are hints of the summer stars to come - brilliant Vega peeks up in the northeast, preceded by the squarish form of Hercules.

To see the constellation names and read more about them, click on "constellations in depth", below.
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