The southern night sky’s most prominent constellation during May is still Leo the Lion. It is one of the few constellations in the sky which (with only a bit of imagination) actually looks something like the name we have given it. The illustration (using SkyMap Pro software) shows the back-to-front question mark which is meant to represent the lion’s head.
At the base of the question mark is the star Regulus, the 21st brightest star in the night sky. It is relatively close to us, but is still at the enormous distance of about 733,000,000,000,000 kilometres. (The Universe is an unbelievably huge place!) To the left of the question mark is the lion’s body, and his tail can be imagined as passing through the star Denebola.
The planet Saturn can easily be found by continuing a line from the star Zozma to Denebola and then beyond. Saturn is the next bright object that you come to, at just over twice the distance from Zozma to Denebola. The other naked-eye planets are not visible in the evening sky this month – Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter all rise just before dawn.
Full Moon this month will be on Tuesday, May 17. Full Moon is not a good time for astronomers. The light from the Moon makes it more difficult to see the stars. It is also more difficult to observe the craters and mountains on the Moon itself, because of the lack of shadows; far better to observe these at the crescent Moon or half Moon stage.