The three brightest planets are about to join up for an evening dance set. Currently Mercury is rising clear of the Sun’s glare into the evening sky. There it will join Venus and Jupiter for a conjunction that will continue, with various partners, for over a month. The three dancers will be well matched for brightness, with Mercury shining around -1 magnitude, Jupiter at -2, and Venus around -4 magnitude.
On the evening of May 24th Venus and Mercury will be about 2° apart with Jupiter 4° above. Closest approach of the three will occur the evening of May 26th with the trio forming a neat triangle about 2° on a side. On the 28th Venus and Jupiter will be just over 1° apart. During the first few days of June, the planet Jupiter will bow out of the dance, exiting the stage into the Sun’s glare. Venus and Mercury will join up one more time for a few days after June 17th, with a close approach on the 19th and 20th with about 2° separation between the two. When Mercury also heads into the sunset this dance will end during the last days of June.
On the 9th and 10th of June the Moon will run across the stage, a very thin crescent around 2% illuminated and 6° south of the planets.
Much of the dance will take place about 15° above the sunset, high enough to be nicely visible, low enough that the glow of sunset will provide a colorful backdrop to light the stage.