BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - If you’ve scrolled through your Facebook timeline lately, there is a chance you may have run across posts sharing articles about an upcoming “smile in the sky” on May 16th. The story involves a night sky viewing opportunity in which a crescent moon and the planets, Jupiter and Venus, will form a conjunction, resulting in a smiley face. It sounds like a picture taken out of the story from Alice in Wonderland and while this group of celestial bodies does smile upon us every so often, it won’t be happening this year or anytime in the near future.
After reviewing astronomical data, the planet Jupiter will be rising after midnight at 1:47 AM on May 16th, plus the moon will be in a last quarter phase. So according to our night sky calculations, it will be impossible for the planets and moon to come into a proper alignment to form a smile.
If you conduct a simple web search for the planets, the moon, and smile in the sky, there is a very good chance you will find an article about this event. The story was even posted on some reputable science sites. However, the information simply isn’t true.
That being said, there are some great night sky viewing opportunities coming up in the month of May that are accurate. During the first part of the month, the planet Venus will continue to shine bright, above the western horizon after sunset. We will also have some meteor watching opportunities on the 5th of May, during the annual Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower. This time of year is often great for skywatching as the temperatures are not too cold and the atmosphere above is less hazy.
When the weather is nice, we like to share fun night sky viewing events, so be sure to tune-in to our forecasts on WBRC Fox6. You can also check the cloud cover forecast anytime by downloading our WBRC First Alert Weather App. You can download our app for free by searching WBRC in your App Store.