Skywatching opportunity

Mercury, Venus and Jupiter will be closely bunched together for the next several days. They won't be as close together as they will on Sunday until 2021. (EarthSky.org / May 22, 2013)

Venus, Jupiter and Mercury are all visible in the night sky around the end of this month, and they are moving toward their closest conjunction for nearly a decade.

The three planets fit within a 5-degree sliver of the sky starting Friday and through Wednesday. They won't be bunched as closely together as they will on Sunday night until 2021, according to EarthSky.org.

Look to the north-northwest horizon about 40 minutes after sunset, EarthSky suggests. Around this time of year, that means a little after 9 p.m. in Baltimore, with sunset getting close to 8:30 p.m.

Wondering which planet is which when you look? Venus, as the closest to Earth, appears brightest, with a yellowish hue. Jupiter, distant but large, is second-brightest.

Mercury is faintest, washed out in the twilight because of its proximity to the sun. Because Mercury is so close to the center of our solar system, it never appears far from the horizon or sunset.