Celestial Events in May 2024: Meteor Showers, Comets, Planets and More

~6 min

The night sky in May is filled with exciting events, from dazzling shooting stars and the best visibility of Mercury to the Moon hiding bright stars and planets, topped off with the Full Flower Moon. Discover all the best celestial events of the month! For easy navigation and to enhance your stargazing experience, use the free astronomy app, Sky Tonight.


Astronomical events in May 2024

We provide the event dates in GMT (Greenwich Mean Time), so the dates may vary for different locations. The Sky Tonight app can provide the exact info for your location.

  • May 1: Last Quarter Moon.
  • May 3: Moon passes 0°48' from Saturn (mag 1.2). 🌟
  • May 4: Eta-Aquariids’ peak (ZHR = 50) 🌟; Moon passes 0°15' from Neptune (mag 7.9).
  • May 5: Lunar occultation of Mars (mag 1.2).
  • May 6: Moon passes 3°24' from Mercury (mag 0.6).
  • May 7: Moon passes 3°14' from Venus (mag -3.9).
  • May 8: New Moon; Moon passes 4°08' from Jupiter (mag -2.0), 3°26' from Uranus (mag 5.8).
  • May 9: Mercury (mag -0.6) at greatest western (morning) elongation. 🌟
  • May 10: Eta-Lyrids’ peak (ZHR = 3).
  • May 12: Moon passes 1°36' from Pollux (mag 1.2).
  • May 14: Mercury passes 8°07' from the dwarf planet Eris (mag 18.7).
  • May 15: First Quarter Moon; Moon passes 3°30' from Regulus (mag 1.2).
  • May 17: Asteroid 2 Pallas (mag 7.0) at opposition.
  • May 20: Moon passes 1°24' from Spica (mag 1.0).
  • May 23: Full Moon (Flower Moon). 🌟
  • May 24: Lunar occultation of Antares (mag 1.1). 🌟
  • May 30: Last Quarter Moon.
  • May 31: Lunar occultation of Saturn (mag 1.2) 🌟; Mercury (mag -0.7) passes 1°21' from Uranus (mag 5.8).

*The highlighted events are the most important events of the month.

About magnitude: the faintest magnitude for stars and planets visible to the naked eye in cities with moderate light pollution is about 4. The limiting magnitude of an optical device depends on its specification but rarely exceeds 11.

Bortle Scale of Light Pollution
Wondering if you can spot that galaxy or nebula from your backyard? 🌌Our infographic has the answers! Here we use the Bortle Scale to illustrate how light pollution affects what you see. Get to know the night sky and enhance your stargazing experience!
See Infographic

Planets in May 2024

Northern Hemisphere

In the morning hours from the beginning to the middle of the month, you can see Mercury (mag 0.2) in the northeast sky within Pisces.

At the end of the month, look towards the eastern horizon in the morning to find Mars (mag 1.1) also in Pisces, and Saturn (mag 1.2) in Aquarius.

For a closer look at Neptune (mag 7.9), grab binoculars or a telescope and check near the eastern horizon in Pisces during the morning.

Venus, Jupiter, and Uranus are too close to the Sun to be visible.

Southern Hemisphere

Catch Mercury (mag 0.2) in the morning in the northeast, first in Pisces and then in Aries. Early in the morning, Venus (mag -3.9) can be spotted near the eastern horizon, also in Aries.

Look for Mars (mag 1.1) high in the northeast direction, in Pisces. Saturn (mag 1.2) is visible in the morning in Aquarius.

At the end of the month, use binoculars or a telescope to see Uranus (mag 5.7) near the northeastern horizon in Taurus. Neptune (mag 7.9) will be in the same direction in Pisces.

Jupiter won’t be visible due to its proximity to the Sun.

Mercury at greatest western (morning) elongation

In May, seize the opportunity to spot the elusive planet! On May 9, Mercury will reach its greatest morning elongation — its greatest apparent distance from the Sun in the sky. This is the best time to view Mercury, especially for observers in the Southern Hemisphere.

As the innermost planet, Mercury hides in the Sun’s glare most of the time and, therefore, is difficult to observe. The best moment to see Mercury is during its greatest elongation when it is farthest from the Sun.

Due to the angle of the ecliptic, this time of the year, Mercury will be better visible from the southern latitudes, where it will rise higher above the horizon. In fact, this will be the best morning apparition of Mercury for the Southern Hemisphere this year. But from the Northern Hemisphere, the planet will be visible, too!

Learn more: Mercury, the Closest Planet to the Sun.

Full Moon in May 2024

On Thursday, May 23, at 13:53 GMT (9:53 a.m. EDT), the Moon will enter its full phase. During this time, it will be in the constellation Scorpius, close to the bright star Antares.

At this exact moment, the Moon might be below the horizon depending on your location, but this doesn't mean you'll miss the Full Moon in May. It will appear perfectly round for about three days, including the day before and after the peak.

The Full Moon in May is charmingly referred to as the Flower Moon, a name given by our ancestors in the Northern Hemisphere to reflect the abundance of flowers during this time of year. But that's not its only nickname — it's also known as the Planting Moon, Hare Moon, Frost Moon, and even Dragon Moon!

Discover more: Full Moon in May 2024: Flower Moon.

Lunar occultations

The series of lunar occultations takes place in May! During a lunar occultation, the Moon passes in front of a celestial body, obscuring it from view. However, occultations are visible only from some regions, while others see the Moon coming close to another celestial object.

Be sure to check out the free Sky Tonight app to see if a lunar occultation is visible in your area. Detailed maps are now available!

Here’s what’s happening this month:

  • Occultation of Saturn on May 3, visible only from Antarctica.
  • Occultation of Neptune on May 4, visible from the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Occultation of Mars on May 5, where the Moon, at 12.4% illumination, will cover Mars for observers in Southeast Asia, including Madagascar, Mauritius, Reunion, Seychelles, and other nearby areas. This event starts at 00:05 GMT and ends at 04:26 GMT.
  • Occultation of Antares on May 24, during which the nearly Full Moon will obscure the red supergiant star. It will be visible from the Americas, Western Africa, and Middle Africa from 01:11 GMT to 05:24 GMT.
  • Occultation of Saturn again on May 31, where a 46.7%-illuminated Moon will hide Saturn for viewers in parts of Southern Africa, Argentina, Chile, southern Brazil, and Uruguay. This occultation starts at 06:23 GMT and lasts until 10:30 GMT.

Stay informed: What Planet is Next to the Moon Tonight?

Comets in May 2024

The prominent comet Pons-Brooks, which graced the Northern Hemisphere sky until April, is now visible in the Southern Hemisphere, low above the horizon. Having passed its closest point to the Sun (perihelion) on April 21, the comet is gradually fading. In May, it will have a magnitude of about 5. To see this comet, look towards the western horizon in the evening, about an hour after sunset.

The periodic comet 13P/Olbers is approaching perihelion on June 30, 2024. Around this time, astronomers expect it to reach a brightness of about 7. Throughout May, the comet will display a visual brightness between 8 and 9 and will be positioned low above the northwestern horizon in the evening. This comet is visible from the Northern Hemisphere; it’s rather faint, so you'll need medium-sized binoculars or a small telescope to observe 13P/Olbers.

If you're an experienced observer, keep an eye out for C/2023 A3 (Tsuchinshan-ATLAS) — potentially the standout comet of 2024. It is expected to become exceptionally bright and may be visible to the naked eye from the Northern Hemisphere in September and October. Currently, the comet has a magnitude of 10 and can be seen rising above the horizon in the evening. You'll need large binoculars or a small telescope to view it at this stage.

To easily locate the comets in the sky, use the Sky Tonight app.

Meteor Showers in May 2024

There are two notable meteor showers in May 2024: the Eta-Aquariids, which peak on May 5, and the Eta-Lyrids, which peak on May 10.

The strong Eta Aquariids typically produce up to 50 meteors per hour at their peak. While they are best viewed from the Southern Hemisphere, people in some northern areas can also see them. This year, the peak of the Eta Aquariids is conveniently a few days before the New Moon, providing dark skies for better viewing.

In contrast, the Eta Lyrids are much weaker, with a maximum of about 3 meteors per hour during their peak. The New Moon on May 8 will provide optimal viewing conditions. The radiant point of this meteor shower will be above the horizon all night, making it accessible to observers in the Northern Hemisphere.

Learn more: Meteor Shower Calendar for March-June.

How to see astronomical events in May 2024?

Use the Sky Tonight app to easily explore the night sky and keep track of all the celestial events mentioned.

Sky Tonight offers one of the largest free databases of celestial objects among stargazing apps! You can discover galaxies, comets, asteroids, and other celestial bodies without having to purchase additional content.

To learn how to get the most out of the app, watch our short video tutorials.

May Celestial Events: Bottom Line

The night sky in May is packed with exciting sights! You'll see everything from bright shooting stars and the best view of Mercury to the Moon covering stars and planets to the beautiful Full Flower Moon. To help you find and enjoy these events, use the free Sky Tonight app. It makes stargazing easy and fun, so you won't miss a thing!